The value of friends

| Staff Columnist

How do you judge the value of friendship? People get married everyday with the belief that they’ve committed their lives to a best friend. To become someone’s best friend, certain traits need to be developed. Loyalty, integrity, courage, respect and commitment are few of the keys to a good friendship. The true worth of a “best friend” is unmeasurable. Best friends are there for you during the “tuff” times, from those lonely nights far away from home to those gloomy days of heartache when your relationship has unfortunately come to an end.

Friendships are not measured by time or financial gains but by the selfless service of the person committing himself to an individual other than himself. Parents and siblings are friends by blood, but it’s those strangers that we meet on a peaceful fall afternoon, crossing the grassy field, into the library that change our lives forever.

In the near future I will begin my journey across the ocean to provide my skillset as a soldier with the United States Army. I’ve been placed with a unit other than my own from Hannibal, Missouri as a fill-in. Over the last few weeks, I’ve trained with a large group of soldiers of which I knew only a few. Meeting new people is usually difficult. Some people work thirty years at the same job and seem to know very little about their fellow co-workers.

In the Army this isn’t an option. Friendship turns from a convenience of time to a necessity of the present. My new unit stresses the philosophy of family. This family will evolve by developing strong friendships by living, eating and training with each other all day, every day.

We have soldiers with varying ages, from those young enough to enroll in college to those old enough to pay for their kids’ own. The age difference is a plus—it makes the old feel young, and the young feel wise. These friendships cross all ages and barriers.These are friendships that will deal not only with the hopes and dreams of the individuals, but also with life and death. The soldiers that I have in my squad have now become my immediate family—people that I will provide support to and will need support from. We are both male and female. Our different personalities will bind us together for the long journey away from home.

The small group has the quiet leadership that trusts us to take care of our business, and another soldier who’s close to retirement and cracks jokes to make sure everyone knows he’s got their back. My new family has experience and curiosity. The three-man team that I’m part of consists of two younger guys and then me, a not-so-young guy. Our friendships developed immediately because of the things we had in common: sports, cars and the Army. We all have that in common whether we like it or not. Friendships are interesting because you’re never sure how they will end up. I think the friendships I’ve made in such a short time not only with my fellow enlisted soldiers, but also with my leadership, will last long past my deployment.

So school is about to get into full swing and summer playtime is finally winding down. I hope that all of you on campus enjoy the changing of the seasons as fall arrives and students from all over wander into the libraries and dorms scattered throughout Washington University to enjoy each other’s company.

Friendship is one of the most important things you can have, wherever you go. I have a feeling I’ll be just fine when it comes to making friends, but while you are at school, keep your friends close, because they are the ones who make it all worthwhile.

Throughout this school year I will continue my column from abroad, not only writing about what I think, but what soldiers the same age as college students think. Feel free to email me with any questions or comments, and follow along as I travel abroad with my new friends.

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