|John M. Brooks|
A tall black Marine stood across from me at the motel registration desk. His uniform was filled with service medals and his sleeves dominated by sergeant stripes and gold hash marks. I knew enough about military medals from my mandatory ROTC classes to recognize him as a decorated and honored defender of our country, an image he likely meant to convey. I admired him, but did not envy his job.
It was 1963, and our country was in the middle of the Vietnam War. I was nineteen and working as a motel night clerk in Springfield, Missouri, struggling to pay my way through college and hoping not to be drafted.