By Kevin Shannahan
Every year, about 30 young men and women start their journey into the military at the US Army Recruitment Station in Natchitoches. Before the prospective soldiers are sent to basic training, they are given a short introduction into military life and the skills they will need to master in order to be successful.
Each week, Staff Sergeants Clint Lawrence and Tiffany Gourdon teach classes on first aid, land navigation, customs and courtesies, the 24 hour clock and the phonetic alphabet. They also lead the future soldiers in physical training, getting them ready for the rigors of their future profession.
As I near my sixtieth birthday in a few months, I look back and realize that some of the best years of my life were spent wearing this nation’s uniform. I was cold, hot, tired, soaking wet and occasionally downright miserable. I would not trade any of it for anything. Forty years or so from now, those young men and women will hopefully look back and think the same.
There are superficial differences between the military of my day and now, but the important things remain the same. Young men and women still step up to test themselves. Good NCOs like Staff Sergeants Lawrence and Gourdon will be there to teach them and drive them to do more than they thought possible. Along the way, the young soldiers will discover the deep satisfaction to be found in doing difficult and important work for their nation and of being a part of something larger than themselves.
The Natchitoches Parish Journal wishes to commend the young men and women of our community who have volunteered to stand watch on America’s ramparts. May God keep his hand over you on your journeys. Godspeed soldiers!