Anthony: In the late seventies I was going through ranger school at Fort Benning. During the escape and evasion part of training I caught walking pneumonia. I had to have a 500 PT test score to graduate. I came up with a 499. Come to find out I'd been recycled and was going to have to do another 11 weeks.The guy who recycled me was a southerner. My last name is Muslim, I'm from New York, of color, and i'm down here in the deep South. I'm presuming that this was personal.
I was going to quit but I talked to people I respected. They said, you never been no quitter. You need to go back and do your thing. I did. It was the hardest second 11 weeks of my life on the back of the first hardest 11 weeks of my life. But I finished and graduated.
The first sergeant who recycled me, comes over and shakes my hand and calls me ranger. It was the first thing that he had said to me that wasn't derogatory. So, feeling a little confident, I told him I'd like to get something off my chest. I run through how I felt like this eleven weeks being recycled was done to keep me from graduating and all that. When I got done he stared at me for quite a while and finally said, "Are you waiting for a response?" I said something to the effect of, if you're so inclined.
He surprised the hell out of me when the first thing that comes out of his mouth is, " I don't really give a shit what you think. I train rangers and if you're gonna wear that patch it's gonna be because you met the bar. Some things, you have to meet the bar, period."
Here's a guy I presumed was racist. I had some strong feelings. It took me a long time to realize that guy is one of the top three people who influenced my life and how I started to look at life a lot differently.
I'm from the concrete jungle, but in the woods here in Georgia, I learned a lot about life. We see the spectacular, we see the magnificent, we see the beauty of nature. But when you look real close, it's cruel, brutal, and unfair as hell, but we don't avoid it. We learn to navigate it. And on the real chance that you get bit by the snake, stung by the bee, or whatever, you heal up as best you can and keep it moving.