Green Toy Soldiers
Being an only child, my childhood mostly consisted of me being left to my imagination as both my parents worked and I had to fend off the forces of boredom alone. I had a vast collection of stuffed animals that would rival most zoos, an abundant amount of Pokemon cards and my most prized possessions; my green toy soldiers.
As every normal boy has his hobby or niche, mine was the military. Instead of Saturday morning cartoons, I would educate myself on how the allies invaded Normandy. Instead of dressing as a ninja or Batman for Halloween, I would consistently dress as a soldier in full fatigues and a Kevlar helmet much too big for my head. Whenever I would win tickets at the local arcade, I would immediately spend all of them on the green toy soldiers. Throughout my childhood, I would hold battles between the valiant green army and the evil tan army of toy soldiers, always resulting in the green army prevailing.
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These battles would take place in the thick jungles of my backyard, in the rocky sea of my bath tub or in my living room where I would build pillboxes and bunkers with tissue boxes and elaborate bases out of my unused books. As my childhood progressed, I began to meet some of my best friends through common interest in the military. It was close to ironic that I was so drawn to the military since nobody in my family has served or been significantly interested in it. In middle school I partook in a project where I had to research a college that I thought was interesting. Instead of finding a college, I discovered ROTC and like a normal child would be enamored by a bike or video game, so was I about ROTC. The thought of serving my country and getting a top education at the college of my choice completely sold me and so in the eighth grade, my dream to become an officer through ROTC began.
In high school I attempted to prepare myself for the military in every activity that I did. In cross country, I imagined as I led the pack that in a few years I would do the same, but instead of leading other lanky high school runners, I would be leading future soldiers. In band I made it a point to make sure I was the most disciplined and dependable within the drum line and I was surprised at how much I looked like a soldier in the reflection of my drum with my buzz-cut and cadet style uniform. Finally in my youth ministry I truly learned what it meant to be a leader when I got the opportunity to lead retreats and God centered teens. Through all these activities I grew in maturity, character and most of all learned indispensable life lessons such as the value of being prompt and dependable. More and more, I saw that my dream was becoming reality. Then came the talk.
Being an only child and the last of my family name, I perceived my parents to really resent the idea of me joining the military and from my perception, I believed they just expected me to outgrow what they considered a phase. I told my parents that I officially wanted to join the military, their reactions surprised me. They informed me that they could tell from the day that the idea of being an ROTC cadet popped into my head that I was going into the military and that I would most likely become an officer. Now that I’m filling out all the forms and applying for Army and Air Force scholarships I’m beginning to realize that I have almost completely grown into that Kevlar helmet that use to engulf my six year old head.