After months of could he, should he, would he, it was time. The appointment was made, the papers were filled out and prepared for signatures. He walked through the doors a free man, able to walk out again without a thought or obligation. But he walked on.
He moved down an institution-style hallway, all fluorescent lights and painted cinder block walls. The light cast had a sickly greenish hue which lent itself well to the corresponding greyish tan walls and tannish brown trim. Sheets of paper fluttered from the bulletin boards in his wake, reminders of one requirement or another, contact information for finance or promotion. The halls created echoing footsteps until he turned the corner into a similarly non-descript room.
The whiteness of the paperwork on the desk highlighted the dinginess of the color scheme: brown desk, brown chair, tan walls, tan carpet, tan ceiling tiles, greyish-greenish-brown uniforms. The room was a study in Middle Eastern natural, all except the glaring white papers and a brightly colored flag behind the desk. After a tour overseas, the colors were almost welcoming, or at least accustomed surroundings. He would never call the office "home," but in an odd way it was similar. He had spent plenty of time in the building over the years. Now, with these papers, he was choosing to spend at least another more.
The sergeant settled at the desk and took out a pen. They bent their heads over the words, double checking names and dates for accuracy. With a final assurance that all was as it should be, the lieutenant signed the forms and the sergeant passed the papers to him. No second thoughts, no misgivings, no hesitation slowed the path of the pen through his scratchy signature.
He straightened, and with squared shoulders raised his right hand. Repeating after the sergeant, he swore once again to defend his country from all enemies, foreign and domestic. He swore true allegiance to the same. He swore to obey his commander-in-chief, the President of the United States, as well as his superiors in the chain of command. Non-verbally he swore to place his country before his wants, his needs, his loves, and his hates, as his country required it.
He swore to leave his family when called.
He swore to protect the freedom of those who would malign him for doing so.
He swore to lay down his very life if it was required of him.