Orphan Survival Stories Index |
WANTING TO BE SOMEBODY
"Lieutenant Kiser, please sign on the dotted line. I thank you and it has been a pleasure doing business with you, sir." said the storeowner.
Several minutes later, I walked out of the small shop carrying my new stereo system. I headed back to Fort Wainwright, a U.S. Army base located in Fairbanks, Alaska where I was stationed.
As I walked along, soldiers would salute me, as was required by military code. It was a good feeling to know that I finally was a value to the world. It was a very good feeling to know that others respected me. I would salute them back and always have a word to share in return. Little did I know at that time in my life that what I was doing was wrong, but today as I look back at that incident I can see and fully understand what it was that everyone else was trying to tell me when I was finally sent to the stockade.
Maybe I should tell you the rest of the story.
Later that afternoon, the first sergeant came to my room and instructed me to report to Captain Hubbard's office. When I entered the small office, there standing before me were several majors from the Criminal Investigation Division. I was advised that charges were being brought against me for impersonating an officer. About a week later, I stood before a court martial board: a private first class at the age of 16.
I cannot tell you how afraid I was at that very moment. All I could do was look down at the floor. I just could not understand what was so bad about what I was being accused of doing - an act that hurt no one, yet made me feel good about myself for a change. No matter what the officers tried to tell me, I just could not see anything wrong in the actual purpose of my illegal act.
I knew very well that what I had done was wrong, but it did not seem to be such a bad thing, because I had harmed no one. When the sentence was handed down, I was given six months hard labor in the stockade at Fort Richardson in Anchorage.
Forty-five years later, I can clearly see why the court martial board punished me, but back then I was no more than a young boy wanting to learn how to be somebody. How wonderful it would have been, if someone had taken the time to look at a young boy peeling potatoes in the back room of the mess hall, and given him a chance to feel that he had a worth and a purpose in his life.
The purpose of telling this story is to make a point about children.
Many times we correct our children based strictly upon what is right or wrong. Sometimes, there is more to the situation than actually meets the eye. I think it is important to try to understand why a child commits an act, rather than punish him/her for committing the act itself, especially when the act committed hurt no one and appears to not have any logical reasoning behind it.
So if by chance a young boy wearing a cape runs past you in the hallway, his arms stretched outward as if he were flying, it may not be someone wishing he were superman. It is only someone in the process of learning what it feels like to be someone important someday.