I turned on the news and looked through my news feed and saw “freebies” for Veterans. I was a little taken aback for a few reasons, I sure it was well meaning, but it just didn’t seem to capture the spirit of the day for me. No, there is nothing wrong with sharing or indulging, I will be doing both myself, but I just wanted to remind some folks that there really are people behind those uniforms.
So today on Veterans Day, I wanted to take some time to talk about those vets.
As I sit around, I think of the eight years that I was an enlisted person in the Army reserves. I won’t get into whether or not during those eight years I had the opportunity to see any action, because for the sake of this article that isn’t important.
What I do think is important is the many people who supported, trained, encouraged, and lead me. I remember what it was like to serve, what it meant, what I experience, and what I went through.
Today I will think about the many people who touched my life during my military experience. Some have come and gone, some have moved away. I am sure some died in battle, or were at least damaged by it, some came back scared in other ways. Some got help and some are still suffering, I am sure there are some in places that I will never know.
No matter what though, each one of those people, remain in my prayers and on my conscious and they are a wonderful reminder of my time spent in the military.
If you’ve never been in the military you can’t possibly imagine what it was like to turn in clothes, and freedoms even temporarily to walk in for the very first time to basic training, with people shouting at you and threatening you. You don’t know what it was like to have a love-hate relationship with the drill sergeants whose job was to take care of you, train you and protect you while getting on your very last nerve, and pushing you further than you ever thought you could go.
You will never know what it was like to train in places with guns, or train in category 5 weather in full dress, and wool socks. You probably don’t know what it was like to have have shots fired over your head.
You may not even know the feeling that you get as you hear your friend, or you yourself have to think about what if you get called on to go overseas, and fight in the war. What about your kids, your husband, your life? Yes, you know it could happen and may even expect it, but having to do it is well, just different, and having to do it multiple times. Wow!
I think on those years with joy and contemplation. Being out for quite sometime now, I wonder what it’s like for all those people and those families who did 20 years in those uniforms. Those who fought in battles with only a few months off, before having to return again. I don’t know what it’s like to miss my daughter’s birthday because I was off in another country on orders, or deployed but I know plenty of people who do.
I mean, I know what it felt like to have to go to drill weekends when my friends were doing other things, but it’s not the same. I still remember being at Fort Sam and having a fellow soldier who came in the class after mine share that he and his class were picked to go to Desert Storm. I don’t remember his name, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget his face. I remember thinking why them and why not us, we were almost done and they still had more training to do. I’ve thought about that often, but I only God knows. I wonder if he is still in, or if he made it back, I wonder what his life is like now?
On a days like today, I think about all of those soldiers who can’t sleep at night because of what they saw. I think about the people who are haunted by pictures, experiences, or mental and physical pain.
Today though I will also remember smiles, holiday meals at the mess hall and how we tried to make everything extra special. I will remember how many things looked and felt different for me when I returned from training and serving. I will remember families turned upside down, when most people didn’t seem to notice.
There are times when days like these seem so cliché. We talk about those who serve, and those who have served, without ever knowing their names, their faces, and their inner struggles.
Today I think about how many wonderful people I had a chance to meet. I think of who they are, I think it about their families, and how their faces lite up when they talked about them.
Today I think about friends, fellow soldiers, brave brothers and sisters who elected to serve, something others only talked about.
Those who made and make a difference everyday. Some people may choose to look past them, but I will never forget them.
I wish that you could’ve known them, I wish I could share my memories, or the pictures that dance in my head as I picture their smiles and wonder where they are now. I wish that you could’ve seen them, that you could’ve heard them.
Today I will call some of my friends, I will remember my battle buddy, and those who trained and served with us. I will think of CO’s and Sergeants, Captains, and Lieutenants, mess halls, companies, units, MP’s and convoys. My thoughts will be of PT tests (wow, all the sleepless nights that they caused), privates, DD214, bases, orders, MOS’s, and drill weekends, but most of all I will think about the people who wore uniforms and who were willing to do what needed to be done to keep us safe.
I hope for one second today, tomorrow, and forever you remember the face of a soldier and you say a special prayer. Maybe you will do something extra nice for them, or for their families. I hope you will remember the people who thought so much about you, that they were willing to give up more than you or I could ever imagine, time, dedication, service, and at times their very lives.