“My friends serve as the touchstones of my character.”

So there’s this old joke about Dwight Eisenhower and some paratroopers before D-Day.  I don’t know if the story is accurate, but even if it isn’t, it is still undoubtedly true, if you follow me.  Anyway, General Eisenhower was inspecting a company of paratroopers who would soon drop behind German lines while the Marines attacked Normandy’s beaches.  The General wanted to get a sense of the men’s morale, and he asked some of them how they felt about being a paratrooper.  The men responded with comments such as:
“I love it, sir!”
“Proud to serve my country, sir!”
“The greatest experience of my life, General!”  and so on.
But then Eisenhower came to a soldier who responded:
“Sir, I absolutely hate it, sir!” 
That was an extraordinary thing for an enlisted man to say in front of the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe.  The General was taken aback.  “Son,” he said, “it was my understanding this was a volunteer unit.  If you don’t like jumping out of planes, why the hell did you sign on for this duty?”
“Because I love being with people who do love it, sir!”

Four years in the UMMB, and I know exactly how that guy felt.  Band camp was hot.  Band practice could be cold and dark.  Gym floors were hard.  Away games were long.  Plus, it’s not as if life stood still while I was marching with the band.  My classwork still had to get done.  My friends–my regular friends, who didn’t march–would have all kinds of adventures and I wouldn’t find out about them until Sunday night, if I found out about them at all.

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