Today's mood was quite different from the day before. There was a lot of long pauses in between bouts of mindless fatigue duties. Lots of cleaning to be done, lots of inspections, lots of stores to be drawn and returned. The usual army stuff. Hurry up and wait.
Our leadership kept reminding us that this was to be our penultimate in-camp before we officially disband the 416th early next year. Indeed, it has already been 12 years and we old-timers are so ready to retire from National Service.
It's amazing to watch each other get older every year. We get wrinklier, paunchier, balding(er), and, sad to say, I myself am amongst the top 10 oldest guys in the unit. I've seen the kids in the earlier years return married, or return with more and more kids, or their kids are going to school. We men are talking more and more about family, kids and work when once we talked about how we wanna get wild and crazy and paint the town red with our nights-off.
Our CO and the Commander himself thanked us for our support and our attitude that we've shown over the years at the end of today's tasks. They spoke of the dedication and the sacrifice we've made in making the 416th rank amongst the best of the NS units in terms of training, seriousness and 'brotherhood.' That's one way of looking at it, I guess.
For me, a couple of weeks a year to spend time in-camp is a real pain-in-the-butt, but I see it as something that has to be done. So it's done. I don't have a business that might lose lots of money if I'm not there, I don't have kids who wonder where Papa has gone for so many days and nights; no, my students have a vacation when I'm not around. But there are men who do, and they want to go home as badly as I do. So it's done.
If there's a driving force behind why the 416th is so successful, it's because we know that what we do is absolutely necessary to maintain the lifestyle we are used to (though we may bitch about how 'meaningless' it all seems amongst each other). Hence, we want to do things right the first time, properly, promptly and most importantly, safely, so that as soon as ever possible, we can go home and leave all the army stuff behind us.
We are the army because we have a home we want to go back to. There is no other, no better reason to take up arms.