Editor’s Note: This post was originally written by Michael Ingraham, National Guard
Today, I retire from the military. It is an interesting feeling. I have served in uniform a long time and have seen some incredible changes. When I enlisted in the “beer-drinking” National Guard, Reagan was president, we wore green field jackets and steel helmets, carried pistols first produced in 1911, and drove jeeps. We existed to rush to Germany as fast as we could to stop the Soviets from reaching the Rhine.
Over the years, our purpose and missions have changed, our equipment has been gradually upgraded so that now there are no troops in the world better equipped than the “DD coffee drinking” National Guard.
I have served in peace and war, experiencing the very best and very worst of humanity. I have been inspired and moved to tears, and enraged almost beyond my humanity. I have served and been served, led and been led and become a much better man for these experiences. I have been humbled to have had the greatest of all privileges and responsibilities, leading American men in battle.
My daughters and my wife have given so much so that I could have this extended adolescence that is being a soldier. I am so grateful for the unwavering support I have always received. My parents gave me a base, a living example of service and patriotism, which I have sought to emulate. I love all of you so much!
It has been a good career, and not easy to walk away from. Tomorrow, when I wake up, I will not be a soldier (There it is… I said it). I have been a soldier more than half my life. But there is so much else; I do not worry about being underutilized.
Being a father, husband, and teacher will more than keep me occupied. I look forward to what I will be next.
Finally I shamelessly plagiarize Douglas MacArthur:
I am closing my 27 years of military service. When I joined the Army, even before the internet and cell phones, it was the fulfillment of all of my boyish hopes and dreams. The world has turned over many times since I took the oath at MEPPS in Springfield.
I now close my military career, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God, his parents, and a hundred mentors gave him the light to see that duty.
Michael Ingraham is a high school Social Studies teacher and longtime member of the National Guard of the United States.