I spent five years in the U.S. Army from 72-76 My job classification was 91-B20. Medical specialist. Because of the time, I spent in uniform I had to travel to places I only read about in school. I have not given much thought about what I experienced until now. The Internet has given me the ability to revisit especially through YouTube those places in Europe and remember the experiences of that part of my life.
I requested a 30-day leave of absence to travel to Morocco. I wanted to visit the ancient city of Marrakech. My friend and fellow soldier Kevin joined me. We traveled by train from Bayreuth to Frankfort, Germany where we caught a ride on a military transport plane to Aviano, Italy. We then took the train south to Rome where we toured the Coliseum where Gladiators fought to the death for the crowds, and Christians were thrown to the lions. Went to the gates of the Vatican the seat of power for the Catholic Church. The city of Naples which is where Pompei, the ancient city that was destroyed by ash from Mount Vesuvius over a thousand years ago. The plane made a brief stop at the Island nation of Malta before flying on to Spain. Which reminded me of California.
The last part of the journey was to cross the Straits of Gibraltar to the continent of Africa. I had a thought that the view that I saw coming into focus was probably the last one some of those who were sold into slavery ever saw of their homeland. We spent the day in Ceuta, in Spanish Morocco. I saw for the first time statues of people who looked like me. We were denied permission to cross the border without passports. I was disappointed at the time but I came to realize that a thought brought me this far and gave me the opportunity that most people will never get a chance to experience. I was also able to travel to Istanbul, Turkey a city that has been inhabited for over 5000 years, and you know it looked like it. for the first time, I understood the term culture-shock. This was a different culture from where I came from, to say the least.
I cannot explain why I had to write about some of the past events of my life but looking at my written words brings those memories back to life in a positive way. If we live long enough our memories will be all we have left. Whether they be good bad or indifferent. That is a fact of life we all need to remember the times of our lives as we age and complete the cycle of life that has existed from the beginning of mankind.