Veterans Day speaker: Military teaches many lessons

Published 3:10 am Tuesday, November 13, 2018

U.S. Marine Corps Major (Ret.) Christopher Lawson said he learned many things in his 21-year military career, not the least of which was that “we live in the best state in the greatest nation.”

Lawson, who grew up in Pleasant Home and retired to the home his grandfather built there in 1966, was the guest speaker for Monday’s Veterans Day program, which was moved inside city hall due to rainy weather.

Lawson, who recruited and led Marines in the course of his career, which included three deployments, said he decided to pursue a military career for one reason.

“I needed money for college because my sub-par performance in high school did not earn me a scholarship,” he said.

But he chose the Marine Corps because of his respect for his teacher, Wayne Clark.

“Wayne Clark taught five decades,” he said. “He was a history teacher and assistant principal at Pleasant Home.  He was in the Marine Corps from 1951 to 1954. When he was discharged, he went to Troy for his education. He never spoke about the Corpos, but we all knew he had served.”

Lawson said he researched the military in the Andalusia Public Library and decided he wanted “dress blues and a bad haircut,” and enlisted in 1992.

On the bus to basic training, he was one of five people from Alabama, with whom the only thing he had in common was their home state.

“Living in Pleasant Home does not prepare anyone to live in the real world,” he said. “Our group had gang bangers from Chicago, preppies from New York, ‘old men’ who were almost 30, and children of immigrants,” he said.

Basic training strips away 18 years of “me’ism,” he said.

“The brand-new Marine bears little resemblance of the person who went off to basic,” he said. “Me is slowly turned into we.

“It sounds cruel,” he said. “Hell, it is cruel. But so is war. “

Lawson, the son of Dige and Patricia Lawson, said he grew up on a small farm on Hwy. 29 where his family raised soybeans, cotton and peanuts.

“I learned love, discipline and a strong work ethic,” he said. “The Marine Corps did not make me a man, my daddy did that; but the Marine Corps made me a better man.”

Lawson said he learned many lessons in the Marines; among them:

• The only thing more arrogant than an officer on a horse is an officer in an airplane.

• The older you get, the funnier basic training is.

• It takes a college degree to break something, but a high school degree to fix it.

  On time is late. Fifteen minutes prior is on time.

• Field day does not mean the same thing it did in elementary school.

• It is OK to take a whipping. It is not OK to not try to get back up.”

• There is no courage without fear, and “my greatest fear was letting fellow Marines down.”

• Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.

• Losing friends hurts.

“We live in the best state in the greatest nation,” Lawson said. “But the U.S. did not happen by accident.

Lawson paraphrased a quote generally attributed to George Orwell.

“People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men and women stand ready to do violence on their behalf,” he said.