Blog 2473 – 08.02.2022
I Dare You
I graduated high school in June of 1968, fifty-four years ago. A few weeks before graduation that year Chattanooga Central High School held its annual Awards Day and as usual most of the awards went to Senior class members and rightfully so for three years I had yelled with my classmates before each assembly, “We’re good. We’re great. We’re the Class of ‘68.” The usual suspects, the best, the brightest, and the most popular of my classmates took home most of the ribbons, trophies, and awards. I was a bit surprised when my own name was called out as that year’s choice for The Dan Forth Award. I made my way to the stage and was handed a small hard bound book by Dan Forth entitled, “I Dare You.”
The little book was a challenge to be the best I could be, to live a life accepting challenges, daring to do, and not just to dream. I knew that I wanted a college education and that my parents could not afford to provide that for me so upon graduating at seventeen years of age, my eighteenth birthday not being till November twenty-second, I ask my dad if he would sign for me so I could join the U.S. Army. I knew that if I agreed to serve three years on active duty that My Uncle Sam would pay for my college education.
My dad however surprised me and said he would not sign for me that I would have to wait for my birthday because if I did not change my mind by then I would have no one else to blame but myself if I had second thoughts about trading three years of my life for a higher education. He was right of course, I would have blamed him. My active duty service in the Army was a higher education of its own with many challenges, the biggest and most difficult being an eleven month assignment in the Republic of South Vietnam. I had been wise enough to pick the longest training program available when I joined, a six-month teletype repair school, so I was not relegated to patrolling the jungles of Vietnam looking for Charlie. Instead I spent twelve hour shifts in well guarded top secret air conditioned communication centers waiting on a piece of teletype equipment to break so I could repair it. Fortunately the Army had picked good equipment for the job that seldom if ever needed repair, still the motto of our twenty-four hour teletype maintenance shop was, “We May Doze, But We Never Close.” It turned out my eleven month assignment to ‘Nam apart from being so far away from family and friends was one of my best duty assignments in the Army.
Last December I finally retired after spending the last almost ten years of my work life as a traveling contract welding and utility inspector. As challenging as it was to again be away from family and friends for so much of that time it was financially rewarding and I got to see so much of this beautiful country and the world that I would not have otherwise.
I dare you to take the road less traveled, to open doors as yet in opened, and to see places and meet people you never would without going to meet them where they live. I still get the urge to hit the road, but for the time being I am glad I get to be here for someone who needs me more than I need to travel. This time last year my wife drove all the way to Norfolk, Nebraska, by herself, to spend a few weeks with me, as she did many times to many places over the years like Alabama, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Wyoming, and Colorado. It is my turn to stay close to home with her in hot Houston, Texas. In January we drove to South Carolina and it looks like that may have been our last long road trip together.
We still go for short drives to neighborhood parks to walk, but never far from home or for very long. Those brief excursions are challenging enough for her these days. I am still trying to be the best I can be and meet this challenge as I have others in my life with determination to see it through and not be afraid of what waits beyond this door.
With Dan Forth, I dare you to make the most of the challenges life presents you.
Your friend and fellow traveler,