I showed up at Marine light attack helicopter squadron HMLA-469 as a young arrogant kid just like almost everyone else who joins the military. Ready to make a difference with no idea how.
Little did I know, the story of my life would take a dramatically different turn. You join the military as a young man or woman idealizing the world, hoping to shape it a little bit into the one you envisioned for the people you love.
That decision changed the trajectory of not only my life, but who I am as a person. The military experience was as full of brotherhood, pain, love and hardship as I had been told. But you never truly know what you are getting into until you are neck deep in it. Honestly, I would never reenlist, but I wouldn’t trade the memories and relationships I built for anything.
The Meaning of Veteran’s Day For Me
Veteran’s day is a bittersweet moment for most of us who served because you are acutely aware of the sacrifices it takes for this country to retain its standing in the world. You can’t help but reflect on all the people you served with and how many of them are no longer here to celebrate the day with us.
Over the years, I’ve come to accept the good with the bad. That flexible mindset truly is representative of the veteran experience. Moments of intense awareness that this beautiful country we live in is protected by the work and sacrifices of so many willing volunteers. A realization that you have an extended family you can always turn to in times of need. And an understanding of sacrifice that many will never truly know.
With the events of the last few years, the country has felt its share of instability and political unrest. But the military put their heads down and kept working. The country experienced deep racial divides. But inside the military, there is no color, only family members you would give your life for. The country may be going through a period of selfish infighting, but inside the military, the bonds have never been broken.
They are there protecting you and what this nation stands for, always. Even if those inside have forgotten what it stands for.
Some Lessons You Learn in the Military
One of those lessons is the ability to put aside your comfort and emotions for the good of the man or woman beside you. These men and women are the very best our country has to offer.
People whose character impresses you so much that you end up reevaluating who you are. People who show you who you want to be. More loyal, more optimistic, more compassionate, more dedicated to others and more complete as a person. There is no way around it, these people are among the best humanity itself has to offer. If you had the honor of serving next to someone like that, consider yourself blessed.
This veterans day we face a world in turmoil, but we can make a decision to learn from those who are the best among us. We can find a way to work through all our disagreements for the good of the country. We can put aside our emotions, put aside our unproductive opinions and become the change we want to see happen.
Happy Veterans day to my extended family and to all those who have supported us through this long period of conflict in our country’s history. We may not know what the future will hold, but we will face it together.
Please take time to share this with your friends and to share your support for those who gave up more than most of us will ever have to give up.