"FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE!"
or you lose

Life turns out differently than the initial plans we have for ourselves. That isn’t a bad thing, though it might feel like it. Everything in this world changes. So a change of plans isn’t automatic failure: it’s simply natural progression.

CHANGE IS THE ONLY CONSTANT IN LIFE.

HERACLITUS

Do you wake up each morning ready to learn and produce something each and every day? Or do you sleep in for an extra thirty minutes here and there? Maybe an hour on a few occasions? Or do you just give up on that day, completely unable to leave your bed, room, or apartment? These are more detailed questions about our main inquiry which is, What are you doing with your time, and how are you spending your energy?

I asked myself these questions in my younger years. However, I was just a kid from the projects with no father and barely a mother, all the while trying to play this role of big brother to kids who were too young to understand my role. Kids who called me father, asking me where their mother was—a question for which I had no answer. 

Charitable church meals and free school lunches got us by. The cold water in the abandoned house where we lived ensured that we were able to drink and do the minimum to keep ourselves clean. The dusty beds covered in urine stains and reeking of piss were our refuge where we huddled each night, and the soiled clothes were left in the house from former squatters and vagrants were our blankets. Because separation from my brothers and sisters was my most menacing nightmare, we all slept in one bed most nights—as if to protect each other. It’s the same protection we seek today every time we get together, kick back, and have a drink. 

THOSE WHO DO NOT MOVE

DO NOT NOTICE THEIR CHAINS.

ROSA LUXEMBURG

I didn’t know anything else back then except struggle—until I decided to be done with it. I pushed back against the wave of hardship that sat at the end of the bed each morning waiting for me when I awoke. Against the wave of anxiety that would keep me up at night making me worry about what we would eat tomorrow. Against the guilt I piggybacked each day that reminded me that I was an invisible nobody and a lost cause. Most people who have my background struggle with these monsters every day, week, month, and year of their blockaded lives.

So with nothing to lose, I joined the military because it seemed like the only way out for me. Upon joining, I was asked questions like, “What do you want to do in the service?” and, “What kind of job do you want?” My answers were simple:

I NEED TO GET OUT.

I DON'T WANT TO DIE HERE.

I HAVE A PURPOSE. 

 

Becoming a United States Army Soldier was the day that I decided that I was not going to fall. I was not going to become another criminal statistic, project baby, drug dealer, or killer. I was going to fight for my life. 

And that's exactly what I did.

EXCERPT FROM CARMELO'S KEYNOTE ADDRESS...

FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE!

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