I Believe in Ham Radio
I believe the world would be a more peaceful place if we were all amateur radio operators. I'm an amateur radio operator -- sometimes called a ham radio operator -- and I've been one for forty-nine years. I delight at talking on my short wave radio to people all over the world. Regardless of country, we’re all friends in the ham radio world.
I was just 13 years old when I happened upon an amateur radio magazine. I was awed that with a small radio and a simple wire antenna, I could talk to people around the world. Soon, adult radio amateurs noted my interest and took me under their wing. They nourished my thirst for this strange and wonderful hobby. Now, I introduce others to amateur radio.
Over the years I’ve talked with radio amateurs from all corners of the world. Sometimes, the other ham doesn’t speak English well, but through the language of amateur radio, we find understanding, kind words, and a sense of belonging.
Most of the people I talk to on ham radio are passing acquaintances. But now and then I meet someone I really get along with – like Don. When I first talked with Don, he lived in Indiana with his wife and one child. He was older than me, but we became good friends. We talked every week on our radios. Over the course of our friendship, Don moved and had more kids; I graduated from Penn State and entered the working world. Eventually we both retired. Don retired to Florida, and I stayed in State College. We never lost touch, although our radio chats became less frequent.
Don passed away a few years ago, a victim of cancer. I miss my friend, and I miss our chats. But for 40 years amateur radio gave me one of the best friends I’ve ever had.
Amateur radio lets me help others. When I returned from Vietnam many years ago, I spent my Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays operating radio assisted telephone calls for our overseas military personnel. My specialty was radio phone patches for ships stationed in the Mediterranean Sea. In those days, worldwide communications were not as easy as today. Without the help of radio amateurs, our sailors would not have been able to speak with their loved ones during the holidays.
Nowadays, I help out with community activities like bike-a-thons, walk-a-thons or other events where cell phone communication isn’t possible. Most of the radio communications I provide are routine, but sometimes they’re critical. I have more than once had to guide ambulance responders to the scene of an accident. I enjoy helping others with my hobby.
Amateur radio took me off the street at a time when I needed something higher to aspire to. It has lead to a lifelong hobby and to a career in electrical engineering. It has given me friends at home and around the world. Now, after nearly fifty years, I look forward to each day and wonder, “Who will I meet today?”
I believe in amateur radio.