When you complain about getting up at 6 a.m. to go to your office job or to go to school, they have already been doing intense physical work. When you’re frustrated that you have to stop for gas on your way to a friend’s house, they haven’t seen their friends from home in months. When you can’t sleep at night because a car alarm is going off outside, they aren’t able to sleep because the sound of bombs keeps them awake. They are United States soldiers.
When Byron Frank went through basic training in Georgia this summer, he was not expecting how different the Army would be from his previous life in New York.
“Everything before the Army was easy in retrospect,” Frank remembers. “Before I joined, I thought life was pretty hard at times. You know, I had a hard time getting by in school and keeping up with all my other responsibilities. Military made it a whole lot worse.”
The drill sergeants, first known as horrible and mean people, became somewhat different than Frank had imagined.
“We first get there. The drill sergeants are the meanest people you can possibly imagine on the face of the earth. You’re sitting there like, ‘How can these people even be like this?’ That’s when they’re up in your face screaming and throwing stuff and doing whatever they can do to make you miserable. After a couple of weeks you realize they’re only doing this stuff to make you a better soldier, and it works. If it didn’t work, they wouldn’t do it.”
Frank says one of the things he likes about the Army is how close everyone is to each other, including the drill sergeants.
“After week 10 [of basic training], the drill sergeants were actually kind of cool. They became like father figures to us. We each had three drill sergeants and they were like three fathers to us,” he said.
About the fellow soldiers he works with, he says, “I really like camaraderie; you have just about everybody around you. You’re going to be shooting and getting shot around each of these guys, so everybody’s really close.”
Basic training, as Frank explains, is mostly working out intensely all day long, constantly being yelled at, running and the occasional “ruck march.”
“If you ever want to know what a ruck march feels like, just take a backpack, put 60 pounds of weight in it and go walk for a few miles with an hour or two of sleep.” Frank said.
Frank is just one of many soldiers who have gone through the process of basic training to fight for our country. The next time you hear “The Star-Spangled Banner,” you can stand a little straighter knowing that it’s men like Byron Frank who are fighting for your freedom.
Janie Frank is a freshman at Schenectady Christian School