Having taken note recently on this blog of a thirtieth wedding anniversary and a sixty-ninth first date anniversary, it occurred to me that I ought also to observe another anniversary, this one of my service in the U. S. military. At this time sixty years ago, I was approaching the end of my eight week stint in Basic Training at Fort Dix, New Jersey. I have devoted an entire chapter of my Autobiography to the experience, so I shall not re-tell my stories of that six month hiatus in my career. I am virtually the only philosopher I know of my generation or younger to have served in the military, but many of those half a generation older saw real and very dangerous service during World War II.
I can still recall sitting at a table at an annual meeting of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association, having a cup of coffee and listening wide-eyed to Sylvain Bromberger and Jack Rawls swap war stories. Sylvain, born in Belgium, actually fought in the famous Battle of the Bulge in the winter of ’44-’45, and Jack served in the South Pacific. Sylvain and I were graduate students together at Harvard and then colleagues for two years at Chicago. He taught for many years at MIT, where he is now Professor Emeritus. When my first wife and I drove to Cambridge from Chicago so that I could do a visiting year at Wellesley, he helped us load the UHaul van. Sylvain is one of my favorite people in the world, and I was delighted to visit with him briefly during my talk at MIT a year or so ago.