I didn’t have one.
But for my entire childhood, I assumed that someday I would. I think military service has always been particulary respected in the rural South. And I was fascinated by military history and all things martial.
My best friend (and sometimes Billsblog reader) ended up getting appointed to the Naval Academy, and went on to a distinguished career. I didn’t want to go to a service academy (and probably couldn’t have gotten an appointment even if I had wanted one), but intended to do ROTC instead. I didn’t have any money for college, so I applied for and received Army and Navy scholarships. But at almost literally the last minute I turned them down.
I was looking forward to student life, and I just didn’t want to wear the uniform yet (this was 1978 after all). So I declined the scholarships, but fully intended to go to Officer Candidate School once I graduated.I had gotten some other smaller scholarships and UVa helped me land a job at the JAG school. Together with some loans, it was sufficient to enable me to cover the costs (while still feeling impoverished).
During my fourth year of undergraduate school I took the LSAT. I didn’t really want to be a lawyer, but I didn’t want to leave Charlottesville yet. I did well on the test and sent in an application to UVa, the only law school to which I applied. I was admitted, and thus could postpone growing up for three more years.
I borrowed and worked my way through law school. As graduation approached I was facing what seemed like an overwhelming mountain of debt (although it was a small fraction of what it would be today). It seemed logical to me that I take a job at a law firm to get the debt paid off. So I decided to join the National Guard, instead of the Army.
I wanted to be a Ranger, but the Virginia National Guard told me that if I had a law degree I’d have to go into the JAG corps, and I didn’t want to do that. So I thought about joining the Florida National Guard, but that year they were in the news a lot fighting hurricanes and quelling riots in Liberty City. Neither job appealed to me.
So it never happened.
But in 1978 if you had asked me to rank my likely future occupations, from most likely to least likely, I would have had “Army officer” ranked number one. “Farmer” would have been near dead last on my last.
Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.