Sunday, November 11, 2012

One Soldiers Sacrifice - Happy Veterans Day!

In 1987, after graduating high school, I enlisted in the U.S. Army. The Cold War was at a pinnacle  approaching a turning point if you will, and it was either going to end soon, or war would breakout large scale.

I wanted to serve my country more than anything. I wanted to defend my country from those who would try to deprive us of our liberties. With my 18th birthday approaching, I had no idea what that really meant. I had no idea of the sacrifices that defending freedom would bring, I wanted the adventure... but I was ready to sacrifice anyway.
Anyone who grew up during this time had a lingering fear that the USSR would nuke us for all we were worth. Hollywood helped incite that fear with movies such as Red Dawn (the original, not the cheesy remake), Rambo, and countless others. Anyone who grew up during that time also felt a strong sense of patriotism. So I enlisted. I joined the Infantry, went to Airborne School, Ranger School, as well as others, and worked hard to become a true defender of our nation. I lived for the adventure and the excitement.

In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell. It was a glorious victory for the good guys... democracy had prevailed. The oppression seemed to be coming to an end and it was only a matter of time before the Red Menace would be vanquished.... but there was still a fear that the ugliness of war was imminent.
Six weeks later, I found myself in Panama going in to battle.

The battle field was not at all like I had expected... there were no moments of personal glory. The was no glamour  there was no Hollywood scripted stuff. It was real. People... other human beings not so different than myself were dying. It was loud. It was bloody. It was ugly... and I thank God often that it was quick.

I was a soldier. I did what I was asked to do. I did what I enlisted to do... and I was forever changed. I was no longer innocent. I was no longer a boy. At 20  years old, I had become a man. A man who had killed other men.

Days, weeks, and months roll by without me ever giving much thought to it. But sometimes I can think of nothing else. I have not suffered as many other Veterans have. I am strong, sound, and have my life and family. But I understand others sacrifices deeply.

With politics such as it is, causing everyone to hate the other side, right here in our own country, don't forget about those who are sacrificing their families, their innocence, and indeed their lives in order to protect an ideal that only history will dictate as right or wrong. Whether you do or do not support the war... at least support the soldiers. It's the least you could do.

When you see a soldier, sailor, or Marine... tell them "Thank you!"... not just for their service, but thank them for the sacrifices they have made. Thank them for sacrificing their innocence. Thank them for sacrificing their families. Thank them for doing what most would never do.

To my brothers in arms, Thank you... and HAPPY VETERANS DAY!