The day before I was to be shipped out to Vietnam, two friends offered to take me out for a last fling. We went to a bowling alley where one of my friends introduced me to an attractive young lady named Shirley. He had dated her in the past and said she was a friend of his and was very nice.

After some conversation, we elected to go into a side room to play foosball. Shirley and I were on one team, and my two friends were on the other. In the process of losing, I put my arm around Shirley, telling her, "Losing wasn't the worst thing that might happen in the world."

Later that night, my two friends and I stopped for pizza at a local restaurant. As fate should have it, Shirley was there with some of her friends and we joined them. We had a very nice evening--full of conversation. Then we all departed.

I didn't think much more of it as I flew out the following day, assigned to the First Cavalry Division.

On one of the more "down days," I received a letter from someone named Shirley. At the time, I couldn't quite place the name. As I read further, I remembered the night of foosball and pizza.

In her letter she told me that adversity is not always a bad thing, saying that under pressure coal becomes a diamond, that against the abrading forces of a whetstone a knife becomes sharp, and that those things that bring adversity result in strength of character.

When I returned home on Christmas, I met Shirley for our first real date. We shared our first kiss that New Year's Eve.

Shirley and I have been happily married now for 33 years. Two children and two grandchildren later, I realize now more than ever how much her words have meant to me. I thank God for her inspiration, love, and continuous support in making my life what it is today.
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