But the Army persists, and will, and will always need men and women to serve. To those who have, and those who do, and those who will - thank you. It is a hard and often thankless thing you do, with few rewards but that they are hard-fought, flinty and spare. That is service in the Army - flinty and spare. And tedious! We often remember the gallantry of those who have served, but let us not forget, either, the ceaseless tedium of cleaning and repair, of waiting and toiling that marks the reality of life in the Army. I went through basic training (actually OSUT, but unless you're a veteran that acronym is meaningless) with an Irish guy, O'Neil, with a phd in biochemistry. I gather he wanted to stay in the U.S. and enlisting was one way to do it. Why he didn't try to be an officer I can't imagine, but anyway - he and I got detailed with painting rocks one day, or maybe cutting grass or scrubbing pots, or whatever. We were walking back to the barracks, and he said, "Ye know Krieger, I joined up to be a soldier and do soldiering. But so far I've spent noinety per-cent of my time cleaning bathrooms and trimming grass. I wanted to be a scout, not a damn janitor or groundskeeper!"
He was right. Most of our life was just labor, unskilled and unceasing. And that's as hard a life as the constant stress and occasional terror of life out on the pointy-end, in a lot of ways. There's no glory in painting rocks white, but it's still important. Wait, maybe painting rocks white isn't (why the hell did we spend so much time doing that?) but all the maintenance, cleaning and careful attention to every piece of equipment was. Just boring as all Hell.
And so to those of you who have spent countless hours breaking your backs to clean stuff, thank you for your service.