I want to take today to thank all the veterans and those who are currently serving our country. This thank you goes out to everyone: those who gave their lives, those who fought and those who are still fighting. My life was shaped by the military, and my family has a history of service to our nation. So this is especially personal and important to me.
I’ve never met the man, but supposedly, by dad’s dad lost an arm fighting in the Vietnam War. My own dad served in the Air Force for 20 years, he definitely did his time, I remember his absences during my childhood. It is because of the military that my parents met. My dad was stationed on Yokota AB in Japan, where my mom lived. She worked at a recreational facility that served military members and that’s where my dad met her…I literally would not be here if that hadn’t happened! I was born while my parents were still living in Yokota, but my childhood memories don’t start until we had been living in Misawa Air Base. We lived there until I was 7, and then my dad got PCS orders to Andersen Air Force Base on Guam, where I spent the rest of my childhood until I was 18. My family still lives on Guam.
I remember my dad starching his uniform. His camouflage was mostly how I saw him, when he was around of course. The military requires hours of service, participation in ‘exercises’ and deployment to other countries. Even training in different states requires a week or two away from family when you reach a new rank. I didn’t really mind that much when he was gone, to be honest. One less parent (especially the strict one in the Air Force) meant more freedom for me. But I realize now how hard that must have been on my mom, and also how dedicated my dad was in calling every night when he was away.
I am so grateful to live in a free country that is not currently torn by war. I have freedom of speech and actions, so long as they don’t infringe on another’s rights. I can pursue my happiness as much as I am able to. I can attend college even though I am a female. I can have a blog that criticizes different parts of my own government, like the FDA and USDA. I have all this and even more freedoms that I know because of my dad and grandfather and all the other men and women who serve our country.
I owe my education to the veterans. The only reason I can afford to attend an institute of higher learning is because me dad is a Post 9/11 veteran and thus received the GI Bill, which he was able to transfer to me right before I graduated high school. The VA pays for my tuition and gives me a book stipend and living stipend so long as I live apart from my family. Without this generous bill, I would not be where I am today. I am who I am because of my dad’s involvement in the Air Force, and I am where I am now because of his veteran status.
There are a lot of sacrifices required from the men and women who serve in the armed forces. They all give their time and energy toward protecting our freedoms, some give their lives. Even if I don’t believe in war and think that it is senseless to kill other men or police other countries, I am grateful for those who have faith in our system and who are brave enough to endanger themselves for or government’s agenda.
Lastly, the trend might continue in my family. I’m not in direct contact with my younger brother at the moment, he lives at home with my parents, but the last I heard from my mom, he plans to visit a recruiter and join the military. It’s his life, and his decision. But I can only hope that he will be safe and he understands the significance of this commitment.
Thank you veterans and those who are still serving: Happy Veteran’s Day.