Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Farewell to Arms

Today is Thursday, and in “Phase Canada” of my life I used to spend every Thursday night at the armoury. I was checking out an old army buddy’s blog the other day, and it came to my attention that in the rush to come to Japan I never conducted any sort of closure to my army reservist days. So here’s to good times, commemorated in a mini photo essay. I joined for three reasons. First, I watched too many war movies as a kid. Second, as a lifelong ex-patriot I wanted to do something that would make me feel uber-Canadian. Thirdly, I was ashamed to admit to guys coming from nations with compulsory service that I had no military experience. I discovered early on that there is too much shouting in the army, and that everyone is very bossy. But I was happy as a little puppy because . . .

. . . sleeping with an assault rifle is SO COOL!

I was still pretty excited when my officer training started . . .

. . . but that was the LONGEST three months of my life and I began to get really tired!

Still, I tried to put a good face on it.

Then, important parts of my body—like the skin on my shoulders—began to get permanently damaged.

Nobody told me that we would be going up to six days and nights at a time with no bedtime—I thought only the special-forces did that!

I was so happy the morning it was all over!

After that summer my army weekends seemed pretty cushy in comparison . . .

. . . and guys I used to try to stay away from turned out to be pretty cool after all (that’s Sgt. Wellowszky, my Platoon 2ic).

And I got to take part in the great traditions of my regiment. The army reserve was a humbling experience for me. I never went anywhere near a theatre of operation and none of the training was abusive, yet I was pushed to the limits of my physical and psychological boundaries and discovered weaknesses in me that I was ashamed to face. I am pretty sure that my platoon commanders’ course reduced my lifespan by at least one year, but I have no regrets about the experience. I have added two permanent links in the right column. Jordan Sullivan was one of the section commanders in my platoon and, incidentally, also the first instructor I ever had in the army. He generates his blog out of the civilian side of his life. The other link is to my regiment’s homepage. I would like to add in closing that I consider myself to be a conditional pacifist. The army is an interesting experience for soldiers, but war is hell for civilians.