When I married a young handsome military pilot back in the 1940’s, I had no idea what I had signed on to. Nor did I know where it would eventually lead me.


Three days after marrying him, he was shipped to an Air Base in Biloxi, Mississippi and I didn’t see him again for six months. But he wrote to me almost every day.


The war ended and sometime after the mid-forties, he was released from the military, returned to civilian life, and we moved to Florida.  I got a job working for United States Sugar Corporation, and he started a crop dusting business.


In the late forties, he was called back into the military, and after serving a tour of duty in Korea as an air-sea rescue pilot, decided to remain in the military, because he was called into military during World War
II, released, recalled again as a reserve officer.  It seemed to him that life was too short to be called in and out of military service, and try to establish a life outside the military if the pattern was to be ordered into service at anytime.


He remained in the Air Force until 1965, after a tour of duty in Vietnam, being reassigned as a test pilot at Wright Patterson Systems Command in Dayton, Ohio.


By this time, he had spent most of his adult life in the military, loved flying airplanes, and suggested to me, after retiring as an officer, he was considering re-enlisting as a master Sergeant. He really wanted to remain in the military, he was so indoctrinated into the military way of life, and he really did not want to deal with civilian life. He was, by this time, so accustomed to a life where someone else told him what to do, when to do it, where to go and how to think,  it was somewhat overwhelming to consider life outside the paternalism of government military life.


By this time, I was totally disenchanted with military life and wanted out. Despite the fact I had traveled a great deal and enjoyed some good things being a military officer’s wife, I had been studying the philosophy of freedom several years and wanted to enjoy a life away from  under the rules, regulations, and policies of the military. Consequently, I simply told him, I was getting out of life in the military, and it was his decision to stay in or leave. He chose not to re-enlist, and returned to civilian life.


For a period of time, everything went well. We bought a new home in Georgia and both of us were employed by a Motel Managers School. He became a counselor and I started as office manager and then became director of the school. It was a franchise business, and the owner of the franchise had misappropriated school funds and lost the franchise.


After a couple of years into civilian life, we were both unemployed and moved onto an eighteen acre farm house in the country north of Atlanta, Georgia. We had teenage children and a young son who was four years old.


Despite his efforts to find some kind of employment he could fit into, nothing seemed to work out.   Like a fish out of water, the structured life in the military, left no preparation for one adapting to a very different life in the free-enterprise capitalistic system.


I had decided I was determined to learn how to be self-sustaining, planted a two acre garden, and acquired some chickens, a couple of pigs, a pony for my young son and two dogs. I named everything. The two hens were named Bonnie and Clyde, a rooster named Marshall Dillon, a pig named Arnold, a pony named Tip-Toe, and a parakeet name Mahatma Gandhi. One dog was named Taco and one was named Miss Cookie.


We both tried part-time jobs but nothing seemed to work out and we were having financial difficulties. Our relationship became increasingly strained and in 1969 we divorced.


In a short period of time he remarried and moved out of state.


Three months after the divorce, my teenage daughter was thrown out of a car, and ran over, but survived. A year and seven major operations later, she was able to go to work, and moved into an apartment in town.


One year from the date of her accident, my teenage son was hit by a train, in his vehicle in Florida and nearly killed. But he survived.


Within a five year period, after life in the military, I had gotten a divorce, had two children seriously injured, and raised a preschool child. I recall, more than once reflecting on Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, and the adversities she faced with a determination to make it. As I gathered wood for heat, grew food, and learned to can and freeze food, I kept telling myself, I’m gonna make it.


The desire to experience freedom, and to learn how to be self-sustaining, responsible and in control of my life was so strong, it kept me going.


In the early seventies, I acquired the old hundred year old store building at the edge of my yard and the rock house I lived in, took a few hundred dollars and started an antique business. I would buy and sell, go to auctions, and residents in the community would bring old things to me I bought and sold. In about six months, I had three buildings of antiques.


I learned how to survive on my own, take care of my children, and experience the true meaning of freedom. It was not easy. But I had learned how to buy and sell and how to start a business from scratch and made a living at it.


Several years in the antique business, I decided to move out of the country and back into town, and started an interior decorating business, which I owned the next seven years.


During these years, I never stopped pursuing an understanding of what individual freedom meant, and made the practical applications of the principles as I learned them in everything I did.


I can tell you, once a person makes the decision to understand freedom, and undertakes the responsibility to experience it; it becomes a way of life where decisions are to be made, and hurdles are to be overcome. For me it has been worth it.


There is much more to understanding the meaning of freedom than the average person realizes.


I’m going to write more about the subject in a three part series. This is the beginning.


Let Freedom Ring,


Just Me



E-mail: annecleveland@bellsouth.net

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