Ryan Smithson

Decent Essays

Ryan Smithson was born in California, but then early in his life, his family moved to New York. The book starts off with him in high school talking about typical high school things like his job, girlfriend, and what it means to be “cool”. He continues by telling how September 11, 2001, was a normal day in school until the teachers all turned on the TVs in their classrooms. He saw the North tower of the World Trade Center on fire; he thought it had to be an accident and it was just a rogue plane. Then, he witnesses the second plane come and hit the South tower and realized it was an act of terrorism. That day changed him, he started thinking about joining the Army once he got old enough. “If I don’t do something, who will?” (Smithson, 16). …show more content…

The training is described phases; first was the red phase, then the white phase, and lastly the blue phase. The red phase is talked about the most. Once they get off the bus they are greeted by a stereotypical angry Sargent. Before they were even off the bus, they were getting barked commands. Ryan describes the red phase as the worst phase because it is when the Army tries to separate the weak from the strong. They all started drilling as soon as they arrived at the basic training camp. “Soldiers seem so durable, resilient, and so heroic in war novels. On the television screen they're afraid of nothing. I wonder if I have that same courage. Basic training is supposed to teach us bravery and fortitude.” (Smithson, 36). He experiences many hardships while at basic training; the Sergeant makes sure the drills are as hard as they can get to insure that they get the best quality soldiers. On one Sunday, during their “day off”, certain buses would come and pick up people to go worship all types of religion; however on this Sunday Ryan goes into detail about how there was an Atheist that asked the Sergeant what they should do if they don’t believe in a god. Instead of getting yelled at for talking out of line like everyone thought was going to happen, the Sergeant got very serious and simply told her, “There is no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole,” (Smithson, 39). Ryan expands on this by comparing it to World War II where they would be trapped under heavy fire and everyone would be holding a rosary praying for their

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