Veterans Day – What it means to me.
Veterans Day is again upon us. I reflect back to my time served in the military, the people I went through basic training with, the technical school I attended and the flight-line I worked on at Travis AFB. I remember people who joined the military for many reasons, no job, a better education, G I Bill benefits and those for the love of country.
I met people from all over the country at Lackland AFB in Texas in basic training. These are people who had different accents, cultures, skin colors and political preferences. We all shared one thing in common, the love for these United States. We all joined for different reasons and the same reasons. We wanted a future for ourselves, an education and to serve.
I remember through high school studying United States history and thinking about all of the people who had lost their lives defending America. The Vietnam war was drawing towards the end but I still remember birth-dates being announced for the draft. The draft ended in 1973 only a couple years before I graduated High School. Many of us were scared that we were going to be pulled into a foreign war and give up our life. Television showed horrible images of war and death like today but it was different then. We knew we were going to be drafted. Kids nowadays don’t even think about that.
After graduating High School I worked a job like many and took a break from school only finding there was no direction to go in or future to chase after. Like many I didn’t come from a wealthy family and didn’t have money for books or a continuing education. I thought about my future and what I needed to do and the answer was joining our military. I read lots of information in the library about the G I Bill and what benefits it could provide to me if I joined up and served our country. I knew like others that I may have to put my life on the line to protect and defend our country but the sacrifice seemed worth the benefits. I knew that serving our country would place me among others that have a tradition of honor and integrity.
As Vietnam went away and I joined the Air Force the military changed. It moved from war-time to peace-time operations and I spent countless hours on the flight-line playing war games to see how fast we could get our C5A and C141 aircraft in the sky in defense of our country. We worked 48 hour on duty shifts with no sleep and continued to practice our skills in case America was called upon. It was hard work but I will never forget the friendships that were bonded during that time. After serving 2 years I was allowed the option to re-enlist for 5 years or take an early out with full benefits. Those are one of those tough decisions you make as a young person but I felt I had done something for my country and now it was time to do something for myself – so I took my Honorable Discharge and went to school. Looking back I probably should have stayed longer. The bonds and relationships with those in the military are strong.
If it was not for my time in the military I would have never understood what it meant to serve our country. The military made me grow from a boy into a man. It taught me leadership, teamwork, respect and pride. These are things that are missing from our younger generations that have not served our country. This is why people don’t even stand for the National Anthem and take a knee. They don’t understand what the Veterans of this country have given them; the freedoms that are guaranteed under the Constitution that they take for granted. I hope for all of American that young people don’t have to give their lives in defense of our county but I also know that they will.
America is a great country with lots of opportunities. It is also a country that people around the world (bad people) want to destroy.
We have a group of people in this country that feel that open borders and unfettered immigration is okay. They don’t understand that a country without borders is not a country. When they realize what they have done to America by letting unchecked immigration to continue it will be too late. The future of this country can be great or it can be bleak. The political divide, the hate, racism and anger is tearing our country apart. The reason for that is because there is no military draft and people don’t have to protect and serve our country. If they did they would realize what a special place America is. People across the world already know and they will go to great lengths to enter our country illegally to realize the American dream or to kill us. I wonder if there will be an America in 100 years. Either the history will write about what a great country we are or were. Only time will tell.
I am grateful for the men and women that serve, or have served in our military. They understand like I do how great America really is.
To the Veterans and Military on this Veterans Day – thank you for your dedication, honor and service to these United States. We are all indebted to you for your service and protection of this great country.