No Swearing Allowed

“No Swearing Allowed,” Ensign, June 2009, 72

No Swearing Allowed

In 1962, 11 of my high school classmates from Preston, Idaho, and I joined the National Guard. Basic training was like a vacation until we got to Fort Ord, in California.

We needed one another in order to survive our new military surroundings and the onslaught of the other recruits, many of whom used reprehensible language and seemed to have no morals. I sought every opportunity to be with my Latter-day Saint buddies for support from the harassment of our fellow recruits.

After basic training, a couple of my school classmates and I stayed on at Fort Ord to continue training in field communications. Soon, two of the tough, stout recruits in our training class began having a contest to see which one could say the most detestable and vulgar things. Each morning when they arose, they would shout vulgarities so everyone in the barracks could hear their filthy language.

One morning I found myself in front of them and, longing for relief, demanded that they stop. Embarrassed, they turned their ugliness on me, calling me several names. Then they warned me that they had better not catch me alone.

Later that morning, as I was picking up trash, I found myself alone between barracks. Suddenly I saw someone coming my way. It was one of the recruits who had threatened me.

I prepared for the worst as he approached me. But he began telling me how much he respected me and wished that he had the courage to live as I lived. He admitted that his parents would be disappointed if they knew how he was living. He said he would never again use vulgar language in my presence. Then he turned and left.

As I passed the next barracks, I saw the second fellow coming my way. He approached me and apologized for the way he had been acting. He also told me how much he respected me, saying he hoped that someday he could live as he had been taught.

One weekend when my Latter-day Saint buddies were on leave, these two young men invited me to go to a movie with them and their group. As we walked together, someone swore. The two stout recruits told the group that there would be no swearing while I was with them.

After the movie, when the group decided to go to a club for some drinking, my friends excused themselves, explaining that they were going to spend the evening with me. Once we were alone, they asked me about my family and the kind of church I belonged to that would help young men develop the standards by which our Latter-day Saint group lived. I answered their questions and told them about the Church.

I learned that heaven sustains courage and blesses those who stand up for what is right.

Suddenly I saw someone coming my way. It was one of the recruits who had threatened me.