Whose Side Was I On?

The reasonĀ I thought long and hard before I joined the Navy of the United States may seem strange to you, wacky even.

I am a Southerner, born in Alabama, raised in North Carolina. My grandfather, Paul Jones Stith, was born before the Civil War — it hadn’t been that long since the United States destroyed the South.

Pat Stith
Pat Stith

My father had served in the U.S. Army, arriving in France on Nov. 11, 1918, the day World War I ended. My three brothers had all served in the U.S. Navy. One brother in law had served in the U.S. Air Force and another one was still in the Air Force.

But I hesitated over one question: If I took the oath could I remain loyal to the United States even against the South, if it came to that? I finally decided I could, and would, and, if I ever had children, I would raise them to be loyal to the United States.

So I joined up, swearing allegiance to the United States when I was 17.

Coming Friday: My Source Was Self-Insured


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