I’m new. If you would have asked me two months ago to locate Killeen on a map, I probably would have found some way to duck the question.

I could have told you where Fort Hood was. I can rattle off a string of Eastern European capitals and I know a good amount of Asian rivers, but somehow the city attached to the giant military base eluded me. Call it geographic negligence.

My enlisted cousin is the only person I know mildly associated with the U.S. military, and he’s been across the country the majority of my life. So, when I met Justin Hill, a veteran I was interviewing for the paper, his iron-clad ideals and strong humanitarian lean planted a little mine of poignant principled morality in my brain. And as I was talking to him, he “pressed the red button,” so to speak.

There’s a lot of different ways to express morality.

I recently found out that the revered Mother Teresa wanted her nuns to eat only rice with a little bit of salt. She would say suffering is “Jesus kissing you.”

After airplane flights, she’d ask flight attendants to gather up all the leftover peanuts and crackers so she could distribute them to the poor. Incredible vows of poverty, self-sacrifice and intense service to the poor is one way to do it. Unfortunately, as that story pointed out, the severe approach was extremely polarizing to many Catholics who worked beneath her.

In a way, I believed military morality to have the same black-and-white approach, which, to its credit, is some people’s cup of tea that they need to chug away at full steam.

Hill, however, proved me completely wrong.

Hill is an information technology technician who was hired to work for the city of Lampasas last week. Our conversation kept circling around his time as a sergeant.

He said he loved making sure anyone could approach him with anything, and that he’d try to help them out. But he’d also tell his men to keep their houses clean, and in clicked-heel perfection, kept his shiny as an example at all times.

He was an obvious mix of high personal and professional standards, empathy and approachability; A dose of multidimensional morality that I found quite inspiring.

Contact Courtney Griffin at cgriffin@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7559

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