SHIRTS' CORNER: The traditional reservist - identy crisis and tradition

MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, Calif. -- It's that time of the month again. Like clockwork, the traditional reservists temporarily put civilian life on hold as they press their uniforms and shine their boots.

For two days out of the month they are warriors for the greatest nation the world has ever known. Each of us dons our uniform and takes our place in formation as the sun peaks. Then we go about our Unit Training Assembly rituals: appointments, Web-based training, lunch, quality testing proficiencies, and we rinse and repeat.

Amidst the monotony of all this, it's not hard to believe that we may, at times, lose sight of why we are here.

At some point, in many reservists' careers, they forget about the importance of each of our roles. The hustle and bustle of our frenzied civilian lives and the nature of being a part-timer may force us into forgetting why we originally choose to be in the military. In this era, we need to see what we have lost contact with and forgotten about.

This identity crisis the reservist faces may undoubtedly be the crux to this passing phase in every facet of both our civilian and military careers. Every reservist truly performs a balancing act, which we learn to master, and it plays an intricate part in our ability to cope with the stressors and rituals of both worlds. Although there may be many other solutions to this problem, one stands out amongst the rest: tradition.

We understand what we must do: salute officers, stand at attention, salute the flag and follow all of the customs and courtesies which come with the military culture. However, not everyone understands why we do it.

By definition, tradition is the handing down of information, actions, beliefs and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction. This definition may sound straightforward, but the undertones of the definition implicate an emphatic demeanor in the customary patterns of our behavior. Simply put, tradition binds us in an individual sense to the collective military culture and produces a common spirit amongst one another, otherwise known as esprit de corps.

In hindsight, as these periods of transgression and forgetfulness occur, it is helpful to remember tradition. It has the capability of reminding us that we put on this uniform and attend our monthly drills to hone the skills that are necessary to support our country and preserve our way of life.