In many ways this life is about service. You can relate that action biblically. It can be to your family, your community, your job, your state and your country. It can be service to one’s self, an idea, to one person, it can be service to many. On this day, Veteran’s Day, we give thanks to those who gave honorable service to their country in a military form.
I repeat these gentlemen's names every Memorial day and the day of their passing. They are all veterans in my mind. They will have my appreciation on any day I can use for that effort. They all are men that I served with that gave their life to protect the continuation of our nation's furnishings of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for us all.
On this day I dedicate this post as one veteran’s voice of his service, and what service means to me. I dedicate this post to every veteran that has served his country in honor. I dedicate this post to these men and all others who paid the ultimate sacrifice. God bless their families and eternal thanks to them all.
My enduring thanks, gentlemen. When I wake up and if I begin to mentally complain about my day. When I feel that I am stressed, and I am having a challenging go. When I feel the rough seas of the world are too strong. I think about the opportunity you no longer have. I think about the sacrifice you made and by that sacrifice, the opportunity you gave me. I will make use of this day, and all days to come. I will stand as a positive force in this life. I will honor you, I will honor your lost life. I will remember your name, and your being. I will never misuse my opportunity that you have given me. To all who see this post today, thank a veteran. Give appreciation to the memory of someone who did not make it home.
I chose to serve my country by signing my name to the Department of Defense in the branch of the United States Marine Corps. I made an oath to defend the constitution, and this nation from all enemies foreign and domestic. I served five years of active duty from 2004 to 2009. I am no hero by any means. I did have a chance to walk with many great men and women. Once welcomed into his fold, Uncle Sam told me where to jump and I did my best to respond with how high. I was stationed on the west and east coast, as well as a deployment overseas to five different countries under the banner of the United States of America.
My family has a strong history of military service, our genealogy traces ancestors representing America as far back as the Civil war, The Union side mind you.
My great grandfather served in World war I. My grandfather and two great uncles served in World War II.
I was a sophomore in high school in 2001 when I watched the planes run into the Twin Towers in New York city. I was there two months prior to that infamous event. I attended New York City on a choir trip and had touched those towers due to their significance to the world.
I felt anger, fear, and a spurring to action from this event. I felt I needed to do something in response. I have since visited the 9/11 memorial in New York. It was a somber, emotional but vital experience. I recommend all Americans stand at that site and pay respect to those lost on that day.
Six months after September 2001 I attended a school sponsored career fair. All military branches were represented. In a small line of jest, let's just say I was not impressed with the other individuals plying their recruitment wares. When the door got kicked open and a motivated, dedicated, hard charging leatherneck entered the room I was pretty much sold on my choice of military branch post high school graduation.
I have been joined by seven of my relatives in my generation, (brothers and cousins) in military service spanning from the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and the Peace Corps. Our family takes its service to our country seriously.
I had a great many experiences during my time in the Marines, too many to appropriately record in this statement today.
A few were life altering. Some were very hard mentally and physically. Many were challenging in some form. A multitude were a lot of fun and meaningful.
Serving one’s country in a militant form is an ancient practice in human kind. A fighting force, a defense force. Protection of a small village to a border to a large country. A practice that demands service to a higher cause than your individual self. It is an act that demands a level of releasing your desires and choices. It is an act that can lead you to be placed where it best serves the military, no matter the climb and place. I consider it a selfless act to a degree.
Truly a great many structural positives can come with military service for the individual that makes this choice. A steady job, training that can be used for the rest of your career in the military and after. Maturity from experiencing the world. This stimulus elevates oneself from where you came from, be it mentally, physically and even financially. Growth as an individual happens rapidly and usually with a varied amount of force. Many lessons from these stressors carry through life, much further past the military occupation specialty that you are trained in.
It is such a large machine, I was constantly impressed by the sheer amount of our military infrastructure. The logistics, the machinery, the bases, the hierarchical organization, the gargantuan size is astounding. Even with the size, the millions of people that make up our branches, it matters to have those individuals that come from every corner of our country for a singular purpose. I still have amazement in that mentality. It is a unique and pure form of selfless patriotism at its base.
It can pull you from any living situation in the nation, whether it be privilege or poverty. Color, orientation, geographic location does not matter when you serve the overarching mission with dedication and integrity. You must integrate despite your individual personality. You lose speciality and you must act as a team to accomplish the task at hand. You must be humbled, so that you can grow and reach higher.
It can give you a career and take you across this nation, many times, the world.
As stated, the positives come with inherent risk.
You are separating yourself from friends and family. You are actively placing yourself in danger depending on your job and time of international conflict. You are releasing your tethers of self control comparable to millions of Americans living in relative safety and local inclusion. It can be very stressful, lonely, mental and physically dangerous. There is veteran suicide, divorce, familial stress, homelessness, poor health due to conditions faced while in service. Those wounded mentally and physically, their very mental and physical livelihood for the remaining time on this earth can be forever changed.
We give thanks today for the women and men of our country who faced, and continue to face these risks. Those who made a choice to stand for something more than themselves. Those who never returned home.
No matter the geopolitics, no matter your view on foreign affairs, no matter a person's support of a conflict. No matter the reason our men and women have been sent to serve, our country must support and thank that noble act.
We give thanks, but I have an extension on service. I have been thanked many times for my service to our country. I received a free meal, a cold beer. A quality tuck in at Golden Corral has been one of my favorites. I have been given discounts and significant assistance in schooling. I truly appreciate the appreciation. I am thankful for our nation's support of their troops in the many forms our country sponsors. Those who have lost much of their continued physical and or mental structure from service deserves all we can give.
In continuation, I have heard people hold military service at a higher platform than others in our country. I want people to know joining the military is a unique choice, and a unique experience. I would immediately stop people when they begin a statement of “ I wish I would have joined, I almost joined. My job or path is not as important or meaningful as military service.”
While appreciation of one's higher service is to be admonished in a proper form, I challenge every American that they can serve in their own way. They can bring honor to themselves with simple citizen service. Just because one served in the military does not mean they are better than those around them. We need a good nation. We need good people in that nation. My thought is if we do not have a country built on positive morals and sustainability. Without rightful local, state, and national pride then what good is a military protecting it?
My response to my country members that have not participated in paramilitary infrastructure(i.e. law enforcement, fire, corrections, EMT, and traditional military service), serve yourself in a positive manner. Be better in your own construct. Every person should challenge themselves to be a better person because that is the right thing to do. Read something, fix something, learn something, advance yourself mentally and physically. That self service is the first step.
Secondly, serve your local town, school, church, community. Reach further than yourself to make your microsphere better. In this challenging political/national time, it is hard to shift away from the big picture when it is so loud and harsh. Many times the challenge of large scale change is daunting. We feel as individuals we cannot change our macro. So many people have so much concern about national scale items, not that you shouldn’t care, but I plead for more positive passion that can be given to your local surroundings with actual visible effect.
If we breed a national citizen service mindset there is no limit to what we can accomplish. I myself have not earned a pass with my past military action, the charge is on me now to be a positive citizen in my sphere of interaction.
To all veterans, go forth and use your past experiences to better your region of living. Be that light, that motivation, that depiction of fidelity that served you well in your military career.
I will demand of myself this positive duty no different than when I was a Sergeant of Marines.
We give thanks to our veterans on this day.
As a veteran I return thanks to you citizens that serve our country in every other positive form possible. I am thankful for the singular small cogs serving the grand machine across this great land that give us so much.
To all who happen upon this written excursion I task you with two jobs today, thank a rascally vet you know, and apply yourself to positive service in continuation.
To Americans, veterans and citizens all, in the words of my Marine brethren, Semper Fidelis.