Just like every other man in America during the time, I too registered for the draft on my 18th birthday in 1942.
I immediately enlisted in the Naval Officer’s Training Program and was in school when the Normandy invasion took place.
I had just received my commission a month before the horrific battle on a small island in the Pacific, called Iwo Jima. During that battle, near the end of March and into April of 1945, I was in my final training for duty aboard a 110-foot wooden-hulled sub-chaser.
During that battle while I was training in Florida, America lost 6,621 Marines, sailors, and soldiers, and another 19,217 were wounded, to protect our country, lives and freedom.
A few months later, I was enroute from Guadalcanal to Pearl Harbor to get our ship converted to a shallow water mine sweeper for the invasion of Japan.
We had been told that about 250,000 Americans would die during that invasion.
Fortunately for me, my ship was sunk in a typhoon and by the time we got back to Guadalcanal, they had dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the war was over.
Think for a moment, if someone took away whatever you were learning and doing between the age of 18 and 22.
Those are the most formative years of the lives of most people. You get a job, go to school, get a college degree, start raising a family, but you are not able to plan for anything in advance, except to know that somewhere in a file, there was your number and when it came up, you received a mimeographed piece of paper that said, “Proceed to somewhere else and do something else.”
I look back on my days as a Boy Scout and all of the camping trips I took, and the pictures I took with my 39-cent Univex Bakelite plastic still camera with the sports view finder.
I think that was the start of wanting to go places and come back and share stories and pictures of what happened on the trip.
The Boy Scout trips taught me about freedom, but I didn’t realize it at the time.
I just took it for granted. Being in the Navy brought it a little more into focus because I obeyed the rules almost to the letter until I got out. Then I hit the freedom trail for the rest of my life.
I spent 55 years with the great job of either going to exotic places in the world, or sending fantastic cameramen to get the images for me.
Wherever we went with our cameras, there were people looking for the same thing that we were documenting, in our case, freedom on the side of a hill.
It did not matter whether it was in Sun Valley, North Africa, Antarctica, Japan or the Himalayas, or a neighborhood rope tow somewhere on the outskirts of Boston.
I was in the process of retiring when I reflected on what I think is the basic instinct of all mankind: The constant search for freedom.
Why else did those people get on such a small boat and risk their lives to come to North America, unless it was in search of freedom?
Then as New England started to get crowded, they started moving west and south and everywhere across this great land we call America.
Almost everything we do is answering to that subconscious search for freedom.
Having the freedom to pursue it whether we know it yet or not, is what made America what it is today.
I would not tell anyone how to vote, except to weigh all of the facts and make up your mind, and then vote accordingly, not just for the most charismatic person on the TV.
Think how lucky you are that you can control your future destiny with your vote.
There are not very many places in the world where a vote means so much, and without your vote the election will be inconclusive.
Warren Miller is an American ski and snowboarding filmmaker. He is the founder of Warren Miller Entertainment and produced, directed and narrated his films until 1988. His annual films on skiing and other outdoor sports are renowned for their stunning photography, witty narrative humor, and the impressive talents of athletes. He has received wide acclaim for his promotion of the sport of modern skiing through his films spanning over 50 years and is an iconic figure in ski movie filmmaking. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of the Mammoth Times.View more articles in: