Dear Fort Millians,
Due a recent change of events, the circumstances of which I do not even understand myself, I am now back in South Carolina, posted at Fort Jackson. My job here will be to act as the Executive Officer (or XO) of a basic training unit.
Being on the one Army post in my home state is odd, especially since the only time I ever visited it was when I had to go buy military footwear to report to West Point six years ago. It has crossed my mind that this assignment may be the Army's treat to me before a more challenging overseas combat tour, but as almost all of my closest friends have endured, or are enduring, that hardship, I have always kept that option at the forefront of my daily thoughts.
Most people get anxious when they are not prepared for something, and I have realized that if I am prepared, physically and mentally, for that fight, then, when the time comes, I will always be ready. Anyway, I write to you a list. It is a list of the top 10 most beautiful places or things I have ever seen in our home state. You may agree or disagree. Just remember that we live in a wonderful place, even if the gas prices are high, you're dieting to save money on food, and your kids are now at home all day destroying the house you worked so hard to acquire.
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Here's we go:
10. The inside of the South Caroliniana Library on The Horseshoe in Columbia. This library was completed in 1840, and is a literary heaven for those obsessed with the Palmetto State. Inside this stately building there is a gorgeous red room with crown molding and skylights, designed after Bulfinch's Library of Congress reading room, and in this room are housed only those volumes written by or concerning South Carolina.
9. Peachtree Rock. It is weird, but it is so serene back there you feel like it could be any time or any century because you know that rock has just been sitting there waiting for you to come see it.
8. The first day in the summer when the big wooden shutters are open on the old Peach Stand. The corn, the tomatoes, the peaches, are all inside waiting for you on your ride back home from work.
7. Seeing the spider lilies at Landsford Canal. To see something so rare is always a treat.
6. Walking through the historic district of Charleston on a day when it isn't miserably hot. Listening to the rustle of palmetto fronds in a sea breeze as your feet find their way over old cobblestones is just about the best way to transport yourself back in time in South Carolina.
5. Driving in the mountains in autumn. There is nothing else to be said about that.
4. After a long, long drive seeing a sign on the highway that says, "Welcome to South Carolina."
3. Watching the Clemson Tigers run down "The Hill" after rubbing Howard's Rock. the most exciting 25 seconds in college football!
2. Watching the sunset over the creek behind Pawleys. Once again, there is nothing else to be said about that.
1. Getting orders in your e-mail from the U.S. Army that send you home to South Carolina.
Glad to be back y'all. Boiled peanuts, sweet tea, real barbecue, and football season is coming up. I think I'm in heaven.