It is well documented that I am a military veteran. At the age of 17, while my country was fighting two wars, I volunteered. Call it being naive or immature but I wasn’t content with just joining. I wanted to fight. Within months I was a trained combat engineer and eventually an infantryman.
After 3 years I had experienced everything I had dreamed about plus more. With a 13 month deployment to the heart of Iraq over with, I had seen more than most my age. Immaturity was no longer an issue. The stress, daily grind, and formidable enemy took care of all that.
Looking back I am most thankful for the men I have been blessed to serve alongside. Many of them were old enough to be my father. They took care of me even though they didn’t have to. If it weren’t for many of them I probably wouldn’t have made it home safely. (A 21 year old kid can find a lot of trouble while at war if he’s looking for it!)
This Memorial Day Weekend I spent a lot of time alone. I was reminiscing. Thinking about each and every man I served with. Even letting my mind wander to the men and women I didn’t have the opportunity to meet. Each of us sharing a bond over sacrifice and service to others.
Many Americans spent this weekend enjoying friends, family, good food, and great times. Too many of our soldiers didn’t get to enjoy those moments. For those that are currently overseas, Thank You. I know what you are going through and it is all worth it. I wouldn’t give back that experience for anything. When you come home capitalize on the opportunities presented you.
For those that have served, Thank You. You are the reason I grew up in a free country. You are the ones who laid the foundation for what I have been able to accomplish. We need more individuals like you.
For those that will serve in the future, Thank You. You don’t know it yet but you are the bedrock on which America will continue to prosper. You will provide freedom and a country where I can feel comfortable raising my children. Learn from those that came before you but create a legacy of your own.
I proudly display my military service. I don’t do it because it makes me feel good or because I am bragging. I do it because I know too many people who have been injured or killed and can’t show their pride. I continue to raise awareness for Wounded Warriors and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. I will never stop fighting that fight.
Now that MDW is over, I ask each one of you reading this for a favor. Do not let the celebration of our nation’s true Heroes only be one weekend a year. Do not let their stories and memories fade away. Keep their spirits alive. Do your part to show your appreciation. If you answer this challenge with the tenacity that our soldiers answered our nations call, we will succeed. Join me on this mission and let’s ensure that no one is forgotten. Thank you and God Bless!