Signing Up

So I’m finishing my laps this morning feeling pretty cynical about the world and all its doings when I look over to the next lane and see he’s back. And this time he’s brought a friend.

“He” is Ethan, a young man who only started swimming a few weeks ago, but who’s very quickly built up to some intense mile-long workouts, including swimming laps holding this ten-pound brick which to me feels more like it weighs 25.

Unlike the rest of us in the pool, he’s not swimming for his health, arthritis, looks or, heaven forbid, for fun.

He’s swimming so he can join the military.

Specifically the Air Force, which has already contacted him about becoming something called a PJ, a para-jumper, a member of a special group within the service whose motto, “That Others May Live,” pretty much says it all. When a plane goes down, no matter where–jungle, ocean, behind enemy lines–these guys find them and bring them home.220px-PJ_HALO_drop

Requirements for getting in are stringent and include a fair amount of swimming; training, once in, looks a lot tougher. But Ethan is already surviving a couple hours a day of instruction under the supervision of my favorite lifeguard, who, friendly and helpful to us regular swimmers, turns out to be tyrant of a coach. And it’s paying off: Ethan has lost weight and gained endurance, going from someone who didn’t put his face in the water to a lap swimmer in amazingly short order.

This is determination. But Ethan wants to be in the Air Force, and it looks like he’s going to make it. Which speaks well for the future success of his other ambitions: to emerge with his RN so he can eventually become a nurse-practitioner like his mother. His friend Gilibaldo wants to be a Navy SEAL, so today he joined Ethan (on the right, below) to start his work-outs.

2014-11-11 08.34.38

I’m impressed. How many young men are willing to put in this kind of effort for something which isn’t for profit or amusement, towards a goal whose whole point is, well, to put them “in harm’s way?”

How many of us put “serving”, in whatever capacity, as such a priority?

Thank you, those who do, those who have, those who will.

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