Monday, November 14, 2011
Veterans Day is every day for some...
On both Thursday and Friday, I opened up Windows Live Writer to drum out a post in gratitude to veterans and reflection of on my own service. Thursday was the birthday of my beloved Corps and Friday a celebration for all branches of our great Nation's military.
I failed miserably to pulled together all but a short blurb that started a post on the Penn State debacle. Emotions seemed to flood then overwhelm my thought process as my fingers looked for the right keys to type the right words.
Don't get me wrong. There's plenty to say. My heart is filled with appreciation and genuine gratitude not for just our veterans but for their families as well. Military service is both a richly rewarding experience and a unbelievable hardship all at the same time...especially when it comes to the families. Please don't ever forget the wives and children when honoring those who serve.
I took my uniform off in 1991 after 4 reserve years at Vanderbilt University and 5 years of active service in the Fleet Marine Force. Real Marines. I cherish that time in my life and can directly attribute much of what I am today directly to that period. Military training saturates your person down to the very core. While it doesn't ultimately change who you are (only God can do that), there is certainly a separating of the wheat from the chaff if I can borrow from the Gospel of Matthew.
The encumbering emotions I felt last week are hard to explain...unless you're also a vet. I don't mean to come across pompous or even pretentious by saying that. There are levels of coalescence even within the military ranks. Combat troops that have spent months together facing life-or-death situations day after day relate on a level that's just...well...incomprehensible to me. I'd be a stranger lost in their conversations. There's no disrespect meant, and I understand that completely. Facts are just what they are...
Only 7 percent of the U.S. population falls under the umbrella of veterans. All things considered, that's a relatively small number given the conflicts we've faced since World War II. Unfortunately, I know several people who separated under other than honorable conditions. I refuse to acknowledge their time in uniform. Please forgive me. That's at least one issue the federal government and I see eye-to-eye about.
The number of active duty and reserve military is only 1 percent of the 300 million people living in the United States. Just 1 percent defend our very freedoms! There are less than 150,000 US Marines on active duty (the few, the proud) and actually more New York City police officers than Marine Corps officers.
I miss the people I served with a great deal. That's the very first motley crew I had the privilege of leading at the Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station in Hawaii in the picture. It's hard to explain how you feel love for practically a stranger by all definitions of the word. To this day...I love each of them as a brother. A few I still have contact with today thanks in large part to the social media boom. Some have moved on from this life. God speed my friends. One thing becomes very evident the minute a connection is made after so many years though. The time gap becomes completely irrelevant...
Guess I'm still a little emotional about the whole thing. May we never forget.