Wednesday’s Word: Destruction


In my efforts to start back on a blogging schedule and search the vast corners of the earth for more words that move me, I am going to start a Wednesday Word.

I will post a word, quote, phrase or who knows what else that moves me, inspires me, enrages me or more. I may comment on it. Or perhaps I will not. Feel free to share your thoughts on the topic too.

So here goes, the Wednesday Word is: Destruction

Recently, I started a military leadership class. It involves a great deal of reading, and then, some more reading. There are lessons on leadership, tactics, strategic thinking and history. Surprisingly, the history lessons seem to be interesting me the most.

I find this odd as I have never really been a history buff. However, as I age, I have come to discover it is not as boring as I had once believed.

I think it started with some historical fiction books by Phillipa Gregory that I read a couple of years ago. I read an entire series on a few kings and queens of England. Of course, I realize the stories are fiction but they intrigued me enough to start seeing what main events were reported to be true that the author had based her stories around. It became quite fascinating…and scandalous.

Time progressed, and I started watching some documentaries and historical fiction television shows. I started looking up even more events. As I found out more, I started to wonder if it was just human nature to destroy things, including themselves.

Then, I started this military class, and according to historical records, humans seem pretty hellbent on destroying others and things. Dating back to the B.C. era, people of all races, religions and cultures have sought power, righteousness or money. To get it, history has shown they will stop nothing. One of my history books stated that one group of people were  extremely “successful” in terms of military tactics. Well, that is if you consider mass murders of entire cities as success.

”’the people shouted with a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, both young and old, and ox and sheep and ass with the edge of the sword.”   — The Cambridge History of Warfare pg 16 as it states the familiar Biblical account of Joshua’s destruction of Jericho.

Think about our history. Brothers have tried to kill their own family members for the crown. The Germans tried to obliterate the Jews. Bosnia suffered ethnic cleansing, as other countries did as well. It goes on and on.

Generation after generation, somewhere in the world there has been, and continues to be, a batch of evil doers set on destruction for reasons of greed, religion or power.

On the other hand, when we are not trying to kill others, us humans are pretty good at destroying ourselves. Our tools of destruction may be less noticeable than genocide or war, but they obtain results on a smaller scale nonetheless.

Individually, we destroy ourselves through poor eating and exercising habits; smoking, drinking or injecting a multitude of drugs, alcohol or chemicals known to be bad for us. We stress ourselves out to the point of immobility and inaction. We doubt ourselves so much we create a self fulfilling prophecy of unmet goals.

As I learn more, I am shocked that all this destruction. To my knowledge, there doesn’t appear to be any race, religion, culture or ethnic group who has not had some historical event with evil, destruction or war. (To those who are indeed perfect since the dawning of time, I apologize. ) It seems to have effected us all at one point, and continues to plague the world even today.

Today’s world is full of anger, bigotry, sexism, racism, judgement…We are divided on politics. We argue about the use of bathrooms. We try to ban people from serving their countries based on their personal life. We are more upset when people take a knee during the anthem than we are when we are told outright national-level lies. We refuse to acknowledge scientific facts, trends and similarities to history. We are emboldened to push our personal agendas on each other in this me-first era.

Frankly, it is all mental exhausting. I don’t pretend know the answers. I only know the questions and attempt to see all the viewpoints. In most things, I can understand and empathize the various points of view. So I don’t have a dang clue on how to solve the world’s problems. Heck, I can’t even solve my  own I-need-to-lose-15-pounds problem.

But hey, according to history, after we all destroy each other and ourselves, there will be another several generations behind us to relive all the same or similar issues (with some minor adjustments for the change in times). Well, there should be anyway providing we don’t create any population- or world-ending kind of problems…we just might be doomed this time.

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My random thoughts on history and how we seem to repeat it, but with even more flair.

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The power of a hat


I have been slammed busy these past few weeks. As an Army Reserve Soldier, I have to balance my life between the civilian world and the Army. But even then, my civilian job is with the active Army. So my two roles are really very the same: taking pictures, writing stories, and managing communications of Soldiers. As a Reserve Soldier, my “client” is an Army Reserve Division. As an Army civilian, my “client” is a unique Army unit. So, I do the same things for both units, I just get to wear cuter clothes when in my civilian role.

This past few weeks, I was on a Reserve mission and started working on some stories. As it was Women’s History Month, I wanted to write an article on that. I had just gone to a drill sergeant graduation for my Reserve unit and had an access of great information and quotes, but I didn’t know where to start on a Women’s History Piece. So what does any good Soldier do? They call their command sergeant major for help.

I contacted my former leader and current mentor to get some historical perspective on female drill sergeants. I am sure I subconsciously remembered that she was a drill sergeant, but at the time, I just needed a perspective from a female Soldier. Of course, my mentor was there for me and she delivered more than just some information. She delivered me the focus of my story. Not only because she is just a wonderful mentor and Soldier, but she herself was a drill sergeant too. And not only that, she was a drill sergeant who was taught by some of the very people I was wanting to talk about in my article.

I love it when things just come together.

Anyway, here is the story (or below) and just one of the reasons why my blog here has been a bit quiet…

 

Female Drill Sergeant Hat Changes Army, Lives

By Maj. Michelle Lunato | 98th Training Division -Initial Entry Training | March 20, 2017

 

The drill sergeant hat is an icon in the Army that creates vivid images. When people see a Soldier wearing it, they immediately feel respect because they know it is a job that is earned, not given.

The hat that comes to mind for most, is the male drill sergeant hat, the brown round. However, the female drill sergeant hat holds just as much responsibility. It just hasn’t been around as long, or as much, but it certainly has history.

In February 1972, six Women’s Army Corps noncommissioned officers from Fort McClellan, Ala., enrolled in the Drill Sergeant Program at Fort Jackson, S.C. Upon graduation, they were authorized to wear the newly designed female drill sergeant hat that was designed by Brig. Gen. Mildred C. Bailey.

“Those six women and that hat transformed the entire Army…and my life,” said Command Sgt. Maj. (Retired) Jennifer Dehorty, cemetery director intern, National Cemetery Administration, Veterans Affairs.
Dehorty’s statement is not exaggeration. It’s merely a fact of her own experiences as a trainee at Fort McClellan in 1981.

“All the cadre we had there were former WAC drill sergeants,” said Dehorty. “The esprit-de-corps that we learned from them was different. It was stronger….We even carried ourselves different than the trainees from other posts.”

Dehorty was so inspired by her drill sergeants, that she became one herself in 1984. But like a true Soldier trained by some of the Army’s first female drill sergeants, Dehorty pushed hard to do her best. And in doing so, she earned The Distinguished Honor Graduate title over her peers.

Looking back, Dehorty said she wasn’t trying to exceed the standards. She just wanted to meet them.

“In the day, those women not only set the standard, they WERE the standard. And I couldn’t think of being anything better.”

A little over 45 years have passed and those first female drill sergeants are still remembered for their bravery, said Staff Sgt. Briana Popp, an Army Reservist with 3-518th, 2nd Brigade, 98th Training Division (Initial Entry Training), who just graduated as The Distinguished Honor Graduate and Iron Female from The Drill Sergeant Academy March 8, 2017.

“They stared in the face of adversity and never backed down,” said Popp. The personal courage those first six drill sergeants put forth, paved the way for not only female drill sergeants, but just female Soldiers in general, said Popp.

Years have gone by since the Army’s first female drill sergeants, and progress is still being made. In 2009, Command Sgt. Maj. Teresa L. King became the first female commandant of The Drill Sergeant Academy. In 2015, Capt. Kristen Griest, 1st Lt. Shaye Haver and Maj. Lisa Jaster all became the first female Army Rangers. In 2017, Pvt. Jennifer Sandoval became one the first two females to earn the combat engineer military occupational specialty.

With more and more women paving the way and others joining the Army, female drill sergeants will play a vital role in tomorrow’s Army.
“Being a drill sergeant is the most important job in the Army, hands down,” said Staff Sgt. Briana Kozain, drill sergeant leader at The Drill Sergeant Academy. “From the moment that civilian enters my world, I have the ability to plant a seed to change their entire life.”

Like Dehorty and Popp, Sgt. Earlandrius C. Parker, a Canton, Ohio resident and a drill sergeant with the 108th Training Command (IET), became a drill sergeant as a result of her experience with her drill sergeant.

“She inspired me and had such an impact on me that it was my mission, once I became a noncommissioned officer, to do all the things I needed to do to get to where I am today and become a drill sergeant,” said Parker who graduated with Popp from The Drill Sergeant Academy March 8, 2017.

Of course, becoming a drill sergeant is not an easy task. It just takes hard work, dedication and training. But it’s not impossible, said Parker.
“It is obtainable. You can do it,” said Parker who invited the drill sergeant who changed her life to her graduation.

Many female Soldiers have the ability to become a drill sergeant, they just need to believe they can, said Staff Sgt. Crystal L. Doherty, a combat medic who earned her drill sergeant title along with Popp and Parker and will be going on the trail at Fort Benning, Ga.

“Never let anyone tell you that you are not good enough. Always strive to be stronger than the next person. And, just keep pushing forward. There are no limits.”

With each new trail blazer, the Army gets better and more diverse. Many female drill sergeants said it is not about being female. It is about being their best and serving the uniform with pride. However, the best explanation about being a female drill sergeant came from the highest ranking female drill sergeant there is to date during a 2009 interview the New York Times.

“When I look in the mirror, I don’t see a female,” said King. “I see a Soldier.”

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For noncommissioned officers interested in taking on the challenging and rewarding role of U.S. Army Reserve drill sergeant, please contact Sgt. 1st Class Dorothy Sherrin at Dorothy.e.sherrin.mil@mail.mil or 704-475-2307 (cell) or 706-626-0443 (office).

The 98th Training Division (Initial Entry Training) has units in: Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York, Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan, New Hampshire, Connecticut, California, and Puerto Rico.