Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Yesterday, 14 December 2009, I completed my Active Duty Service. Today I am a Veteran and a Civilian (except for that whole part-time Army Reserve thing).
I thoroughly enjoyed my time on Active Duty, through both the highs and the lows. Looking back I imagine it will be the experience and the job that I will remember the most and the time that I will treasure. Military Service has declined in recent decades, though there has been a spike in response to the Global War on Terror. My generation has recognized that there is an existential threat to Freedom and the United States, which requires a forceful response. While only a small percentage of my generation has answered that specific call, my generation I believe looks on military service in a far more positive light compared to previous generations.
Why did I serve? There were both noble reasons and selfish ones. From a selfish perspective the US Army enabled me to attend the Private University of my choice. Were it not for the Army ROTC scholarship, the school would have likely been beyond my reach. Yet the more important reason was Patriotism. It was fundamentally, the right thing to do. Millions of Americans have served in War and Peace as the Sentinels of this country to ensure that I would enjoy the Freedoms that God gave this country; it was my turn to do the same for future generations.
9/11 occurred less than a week before I began attending undergrad. America was no longer enjoying its Holiday from History. Prior to that a deployment to the Balkans as a peace-keeper was the most likely overseas tour of duty. Now the United States began to actively prosecute the Global War on Terror and we would be taken to the mountains of Afghanistan, the deserts and river valleys of Iraq, the islands of the Philippines, the Horn of Africa and in many other places. America was a nation at war, not a war of our choosing, but one that was brought to us, but we will finish it. I wasn't at the Tip of the Spear so I won't or cannot compare my service to those brave men and women who were kicking in doors and bringing justice personally to the enemies of the United States. I did my part and supported them and served my country.
What is a Veteran? There is a common phrase found on the internet: "A Veteran is someone who at some point in his/her life wrote a blank check to the US Government for an amount up to and including one's own life". I'll admit I never really thought of it in that light, but it is ultimately true. No one goes into the military planning to die for their country, but ultimately, that is part of the contract we make with Uncle Sam. I served my country through two tours of duty in Iraq and I can call myself a Veteran, though, I know there are others, many others, who did far more. I am also not a member of that Greatest of Generations, but perhaps, I possess just a little more insight to understand them.
With my time in the military I will certainly take a longer pause to remember and thank all those who served, are serving or will serve. I will also always remember the incredible positive experience that was my Military service and relay it to others. I will also remember those with whom I served, my own brotherhood, men and women who I was incredibly privileged to know and work with. I wish them nothing but the best and I pray for their success, families, and dreams.
Freedom is not Free.