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When I graduated high school, I was like most boys. I knew everything. I was going to get a job and get rich by the end of the year. I was going to be my own man and live life the way I wanted to.

My father was retired from the Air Force. When I got ready to join the Navy, he sat me down and talked to me about how I had to change my attitude so that I could accept being told what to do every minute of every day. When I finally got to boot camp, I still had that chip on my shoulder, and an officer noticed that one of my shirt pocket buttons was not buttoned as I marched to the chow hall.

He had me stand at attention and after calling me every name he could think of, he then told me that I was to keep all buttons buttoned at all times. Then he asked me if I understood.

My oldest brother had been in the service, and before I left home, he told me that regulations might say that I have to answer a question with “Yes, Sir” or “No, Sir” there were no regulations on how I had to say it. So, believing my loving brother, I said, “Yes, Sir” but I said it in a purely smart-aleck tone of voice.

My brother was wrong. Evidently, there is some policy on how you have to say it. I found myself doing push-ups at that man’s...

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