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Footsteps To Manhood

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Tommy

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Footsteps To Manhood
By: Norris W. Ridgeway

Boyhood does not readily give way to manhood. There is normally no exact time, place, or deed that marks the beginning of the process when one can say, “This is when I became a man.” However, the boy who went to war will always remember the footstep that started the journey, and the final footfall that took him to the end of that path.

The boy stepped up to the exit of the airplane. The sound of his footfall was the command for all other boys to stop talking, pushing and shoving; the silence compelled them to observe the first boy’s reaction to the outside. He turned his head to look once more at the plane’s interior and as he turned, the group saw his smile of bravado vanish. His gaze swept across the crowd of suddenly silent soldiers; that gaze seemed to be asking, “Is there a place for me in there? Must I leave this metal womb?” After another second’s pause, he squared his shoulders, raised his chin, and began his march. The silence had answered the first boy’s questioning gaze, so no one else bothered to ask. Each in his turn, with squared shoulders, raised his chin and stepped off; they marched into Vietnam.

They stepped into a world of processing points, helicopters rather than cars, battle zones, bullets flying about, and explosions as constant companions. They left behind the birth of bra burning, the infancy of the drug culture, race riots, and flower children. They marched out of boyhood, and with each passing step, a wrinkle of age appeared on their face and a frown of despair slowly replaced the smiles that each had deposited at the airplane’s exit.

They marched, they crawled, they laughed, and they cried. Each tear they shed was for their brothers who fell at the wayside, gone forever. Each laugh was of the sound of joy, joy for the brother who was able to get up, and joy because they were not the ones lying on the ground, unmoving.

Their march finally led them back to the point of their beginning. As each boy climbed the stairs to the airplane’s entrance he stopped, turned, and gazed back. He saw the heat shimmering from the runway, the jungle at the runway’s end, and a new batch of boys beginning their journey to manhood. With drooped shoulders, a sagging chin, and misty eyes, each man turned to take his last step into manhood.
 

HAY MAKER

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That's a very sad & true story,lot of folks myself included never realised just how young these soldiers are............good luck
 

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