A million reasons

Published 12:07am Sunday, May 25, 2014

When I was 18-years-old I joined the Army and embarked on a journey that would forever change my life.
I was inducted into the Army at Fort Jackson, South Carolina and began basic training. During the course of eight weeks of training my platoon had a moment when we gathered together and shared our reasons for joining. Most saw the military as a way to better their circumstances in life. Some joined for the education benefits, some for the training, others wanted to travel and some saw it as a way of life. I joined for the travel. I wanted to see the world, although I would only be stationed state side.
Along the way during my time in the Army and since my discharge I’ve heard all kinds of reasons that people join the military. Some people I have talked to spoke of their great love for America and their desire to give back in some way.
No matter what brought people into the military one thing drives them to stay, their camaraderie. That is especially true in combat situations. The desire for a college education or the need to see the world all fly out the window faster than the bullets whizzing by overhead.
Patriotism isn’t what motivates our troops to stand their ground when faced with overwhelming odds. The love of their brothers-in-arms drives men to jump on a grenade to save a friend.
William “Kyle” Carpenter, a Flowood, Miss. native, lost most of his jaw and an eye when he fell on a grenade to shield a fellow Marine from the blast. His body shattered, one lung collapsed, the Marine lance corporal was nearly given up for dead after that 2010 Afghanistan firefight.
On Monday, the White House announced he would become the eighth living veteran of U.S. combat in Iraq and Afghanistan to receive the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award.
I’d bet that despite his wounds and the struggle he has endured that Carpenter would do the same thing without hesitation. You see there is no stronger bond between men than the bond formed under fire. That is the reason that young men lay down their lives for their brothers in the military.
Memorial Day is a day of remembrance and to reflect on the great cost that our freedom has been purchased with. Carpenter is a hero who sacrificed his life for a friend. By surviving the blast he continues to sacrifice daily and does so with the same fighting spirit that our military is known for.
It’s sacrifices like Carpenters and countless others that make me proud to be an American.

Paul Barry is the managing editor and can be reached by email at paul.barry@vicksburgpost.com or by phone at 601-636-4545.

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