Today is Martin Luther King, Jr., day, which to someone like myself, is a special day for remembering the integration of the Military. I can recall that even after Vietnam, the Army was still suffering from “growing” pains, but for me as a young soldier, the real pain had nothing to do with color. It was our collective fear of the drill sergeant. From our melting pot of all races, creeds, religious bents, and city versus country backgrounds, we learned some valuable lessons. We worked together, ate together, lived together, sweated together, and sometimes were killed together. Color meant absolutely nothing, because we were all just one color, “green,” and you didn’t care a damn about the race of the man beside you. I think that this experience, along with the untiring efforts of those like the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., have allowed us to move forward, and to embrace our multi-ethnic force. Social change is never easy, but when you are all facing adversity together, it does have a way of changing the social dynamic more rapidly. I will promise you, when bullets are flying, the last thing on your mind is whether the man next to you is of a particular race or religion. Instead, you think about him as a brother in arms, and brothers don’t see color. Instead, they see a brother for whom they would lay down their lives! For all those who went before us, and paved the way for people of all races, creeds, religions, and backgrounds to serve together in the military, I simply say “thank you for showing the way.” It wasn’t easy, and there are still things that could be fixed, but at least, with their efforts, we’ve collectively found the right road on which to travel. ~ Michael S. Pauley
Michael S. Pauley is a Navy brat and an old soldier who served in all three components of the United States Army. Living in Lexington, South Carolina, Michael is now a practicing attorney and member of the United States Naval Institute and the American Legion, Post 154, Tybee Island, Georgia.