Monday, May 24, 2010
The place of my eternal bliss is The Citadel campus. It may sound strange that I have chosen this piece of ground as a place of refuge, a place of contentment, a place to re-charge my batteries when life has sapped me of all my strength. This was the place where lean and tall young men—whose shoes were spit-shined and whose brass belt buckles could blind you if you stared straight at them—screamed at me, the “fat load” as I ran or did pushups. They swore I’d never finish, but I earned the ring.
I chose her because she chose me as one of her sons. Ghosts of thousands of my footsteps litter the parade ground. My sweat and tears watered its blades of grass. And in the end, I graduated a Citadel man.
I go there now and listen to the echoes of my past, the cadence called by our commanders, the cannons as they fired at Friday afternoon parades. I drink in the smell of the freshly mown grass on the parade ground crisp with the scent of wild onion. I even breathe in deeply the musky scent of the pluff mud off the marsh. It is here, in this place, that an overweight mama’s boy became a man, and it’s here I reaffirm my manhood every time I visit.