March 16, 2016
By Michael Liguori

Mike Ligouri paints a pavilion at Fort Wadsworth for our 9/11 Day of Service in New York.

Michael Liguori paints a pavilion at Fort Wadsworth for our 9/11 Day of Service in New York.

When I was in the Marines, we were taught to have attention to detail. It was a matter of life and death measured in seconds and the more attention we paid to the small things, the more we had a chance to survive. The emphasis on attention to detail also taught me to appreciate the little things like the biweekly paycheck, the honor of serving my country and of course, my prize possession, a Sony Boombox (yes you read that correctly…a Sony Boombox.)

When I first bought the boombox, it was only days before I had to go sign my power of attorney and will. At 20 years old, I didn’t have much to offer my family except the boombox and some other items. There was a lot of difficulty in figuring who I would leave my boombox to. I had bought it with the money I earned sleeping in the field, enduring long marches and the constant yelling from Senior NCO’s.

You may be asking, what does a boombox have to do with The Mission Continues? Well, a lot actually.

For us, it’s the little things that count. Every minute spent in an underserved area, working with the homeless, cleaning up a national park or mentoring at risk youth goes a long way. And as a Mission Continues Fellow, every hour during your six month Fellowship, all 526 hours, will impact somebody, somehow, in some way.

My boombox was, in the grand scheme, a little thing; but it still held so much importance in my life, and connected me to those around me. I would play music from that boombox, and people would gather to listen. The fellowship is, in a sense, your post-service boombox. It may be only six months out of your entire life, but it forges connections between you and the people you serve, and even between you and your friends and family. It will be important while you have it, and it will remain important for years to come.

Now think: what was your “boombox” in the military? That is to say, what connected you to those around you? It could have been something you did, something you said, not just something you had. Now think: do you have something like that today? For many of our Fellows, working tirelessly in their communities to make a difference is the answer to that question. It just might be the answer for you too.

Applications for Charlie Class 2016 are currently open. The deadline is April 11, 2016, and the application for Delta Class is July 11, 2016. If you are interested in seeing if the fellowship is the right thing for you, visit our website for more information.

Michael Liguori is an American author, former U.S. Marine and veteran of the Iraq War. Liguori has written on a variety of subjects including veterans and mental health. He became known for his war memoir The Sandbox Stories of Human Spirit and War which tells his experiences during the Iraq War and coming home.