Each year on Veteran’s Day I walk a little taller and feel a little more self pride. I am proud to say that I am a veteran. I served in the 82nd Airborne Division and served a tour of duty in Kosovo. The group of guys I served with will always hold a special place in my heart for a multitude of reasons. Most importantly though because we were brothers…Airborne brothers. You can do almost anything in the Army, but ask any paratrooper and they will tell you two things; if you are not infantry, you are support and secondly, if you aint Airborne you aint…well you get it! The men and women who serve and have served this great nation are the greatest people a citizen could ask for. They are volunteers who willingly defend our rights and keep us safe regardless of public opinion or personal beliefs on why they are sent to do what they do. Soldiers are a special breed when you think about it. We aren’t allowed to “sit this one out” no matter how tired we are. We can’t have the same opinion the public does and decide not to go into combat because we think we shouldn’t. These amazing men and women just do it, and they do it better than any country in the world. I salute those who have served before me and to those who continue to serve. It is not an easy job and at times it can be downright thankless. However, at the end of the day, for me it was always about knowing that I was serving my country and helping to provide a place where people could live free and have a life they enjoyed because they knew they were safe.
I come from a family of Veteran’s so when I enlisted I was next in line behind some soldiers who had been through it all. My great-grandfather was in the Italian Army in WW1, my grandfather was a tanker in WW2 in The Battle of the Bulge, my great uncle was in the Korean War, my uncle was an Airman in the Vietnam War and my father was Military Police in Okinawa during Vietnam as well. I am like the poor man’s Lieutenant Dan! Needless to say the day I enlisted I was proud as hell, but equally as nervous. I had a lot to live up to and I didn’t want to let anyone down.
I found that as the two wars in the Middle East progressed America finally remembered that there are soldiers out there that needed support. Each year the parade seems to get a little bigger and a little more ink in the local papers. I am not going to go on a rant about that lack of turnout and coverage compared to the Thanksgiving parade, but I will say that it is saddening to see the stark difference. But who am I to judge? Those Vets on the floats and marching are what this nation was built on, not a bunch of balloons and vendors. In closing I just want to say that I am honored to be an American and I am honored to be a part of a very special group of people who served their country. I hope that each of you who reads this takes the time to try to understand that there are Vets out their that gave up a whole hell of a lot for a nation of people they never met. I try to remember that each time I am about to steal a parking spot or hurry up to get in front of someone in line. There are bigger things to sacrifice and bigger people who have sacrificed them for me so I pay it forward whenever I can. Thank a Vet….we like it!