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GT Alumni And The Military Veteran, A Common Bond

I'll start with an apology.  I would like to apologize for my lack of posts and content lately.  Recently life has been throwing me a curveball just about every single pitch.  Without going into details, basically two family members were hospitalized, a third passed away, and generally things have been a little out of order.  I'm really hoping that the next few weeks allow for things to settle and that I can get back into some form of normalcy.

Clearly I have missed some things while dealing with life.  I'll post my thoughts on the NCAA ruling later, but for now I'd like to present to you something I wrote while on a business trip to San Diego two weeks ago.  It is not specific to any sport, but rather an interesting observation on a commonality between college and the military.  I've no doubt that this isn't the first time someone has made this observation, but it is mine and I thought I'd share.

I've edited the original for grammar, spelling, and the such as I was quited buzzed after a long day of drinking on the bay and in the Gaslamp District of downtown San Diego.  Outside of that, it's still true to the thoughts that flowed that night.  Enjoy!

Currently I am in San Diego attending an international business conference so sports in general have taken a back seat for a bit.  However, during this time something very interesting happened to me that I'd like to share.

A majority who frequent this site are Georgia Tech alumni or current students.  This makes my position and perspective an entirely different and sometimes difficult one as I myself am not an alumni.  Some of you have been around long enough to know the back story, but for those who may be new or casual readers I'll summarize.  Coming out of high school I had two options, attend Georgia Tech and become one of the few in my family to have a higher education, or join the military and follow in the footsteps of almost every male in my family before me.  I chose the military, the United States Marine Corps to be specific.  That choice landed me in my profession today, GIS (Geographic Information Systems), and I haven't looked back.  As you can see, the difficulty that I encounter resides in the fact that I can not speak to many of your experiences.

However, regardless of that choice or how different my perspective of Georgia Tech may differ from the alumni, some things are very similar.  Unity and comraderie are two terms that instantly come to mind.  Georgia Tech has always been a dream of mine, and it's one that may never come to fruition.  I'm okay with that and have made my peace a long time ago, but I do know that what I probably would have found there, I most definitely found in the Corps.

There's a fellowship and a bond that can never be broken.  A brotherhood that no matter the circumstances will exist for all time.  It doesn't matter what MOS (Military Occupational Skill) the person may have been, when we meet it's like we've always known each other and there isn't a single thing one wouldn't do for the other.  I've met many Georgia Tech alumni over the years and while unfortunately some frown when I say I've never actually attended the school, there are those who have greeted me like I was there with them.  I've been around when alumni from very different majors and graduating classes have met and it's no different than when two salty Jarheads meet.  Both parties have gone through something that very few have done, both have "got out", both understand the other and speak a different language than any other person in the room.  And yes, it's definitely something that we share with few others in our day-to-day lives.

I say all this to lay the foundation for my recent experience, and by recent, I mean I just got back to my hotel room and had to type this up.  As previously mentioned, I'm in San Diego on a business conference.  A very large part of this conference is meeting like-minded people from all over the world who are doing something similar to you.  Another part is the interaction with current business partners or vendors.  It's true social networking at it's finest.  Well, today I participated in a vendor event and happened to meet some individuals who catered to a different region than my company is in.  Lo and behold, I met a fellow Jarhead and you can't even imagine the ear-to-ear grin that spread across my face.  Actually, as an alumni, you probably can because I'm sure it's happened to you gals and guys before.

Of course, there's an instantaneous rapport that exists and old stories pour out immediately.  Commonalities are formed and references made that no one else gets.  The jargon spews like a two liter Coke that was shaken before opening.  The bond is instant and without prejudice, because that's who we are.  Show me a fellow Marine and I'll show you a guy who's loyal to the end and will do anything for you just because you ask.  I could go anywhere in this world with a fellow Marine and know the two of us is all it takes because that's what has been instilled in us from the very beginning.  We've been through the same crap to "make it out" much the same as many of you alumni have gone through the trials, and what some might call torture, to get out of Georgia Tech.

I've listened to alumni talk about it, I've read your posts and comments for years, and I find that while entirely different, the military and my experiences in the Marine Corps are actually very similar.  I meet this Jarhead and we've been stationed in the same places, lived through some of the same events, and it's just made my week.  It's only the first night and I honestly can say that nothing else that happens will compare to tonight.  I will undoubtably meet more people in my profession and none will be a Jarhead, a Marine, a Devil Dog, and it just won't match.  Regardless of what happens the rest of this week, I'll always remember it because I met a fellow Marine.  I can't speak for you guys, but I have a feeling that when you run into a fellow GT alumni that some of the same feelings are experienced by both parties.

I absolutely love Georgia Tech with all my heart.  I haven't lived in the state of Georgia since 1998, but for me, GT represents home.  I know that when I'm on the Flats, I'm where my heart and soul desire and deserve to be.  It just feels right.  However, I absolutely do not regret my decision so many years ago to join the Marine Corps.  I wouldn't change it for anything in the world, not even the chance that I might finally get my degree from The Institute, and trust me, that's something that I long for.  The Marine Corps is a large part of me and who I am as a person.  I'm loud, I don't hold back, and I can drink like a frog because I'm  #$%-*&^%'d amphibious.  I'm sure it is just the same for you all; Georgia Tech is a large part of who some of you are.  But just as the Marine Corps is a large part of me, GT is also a part of me as are other things are for you all.  We all have experiences that shape and mold us that are different than the rest and are unique to only you.  Georgia Tech is what bonds us all through those differences.

There are very strong emotions that are raised when meeting a fellow Marine and I hope that the same is true when meeting a fellow GT alumni.  It's a brotherhood that binds you and, it could just be me, but it grounds you in a way.  If I ever have the honor to meet you, know that while I may not be an alumni, you will always have my respect and you will always get the brotherhood treatment as though I've known you my whole life.  Thank you for letting me be a part of your family and thank you for being a part of mine, no matter how distant or indirect it may be.

Now, what's the good word!?