Life of Service
Happy Sunday to a buddy :)
When I was a kid I entertained the idea of being a Fireman, however, the only thing that held me back from such a career was how deep my empathy ran. Although I believe I would have been good at it, I had a feeling that my level of emotional care would get the best of me, so I decided against it.
Within a year of graduating high school my friends all decided to join the Navy through the buddy system. Growing up in a left leaning no military family, such a thought was short of sinful. Even though my Dad and grandfather (not my GP) served in the Air Force, life in the military was not was not a liked one. Being the parent I am today, I understand the reasoning of not wanting your kids to ship off and potentially die in such a thing. But if the life of service came past our boys' hearts, I would support it for them.
One evening as I was leaving to hang out with my friends, I told my mom that I wasn't sure what I was going to do, but I was likely going to join the Navy. Sadly, I remember my siblings attending to my mom as my parting that evening... it wasn't the most awesome.
To my parents' fortune I did not join the service. I had a strong connection to design and construction, so I continued my efforts at college. My buddies however all dropped out and joined the service; I hung in there and graduated as the only attending friend. During that window of time I would lose all connection with that group of friends. Not until my buddy Chris Pike would be killed in action on a rooftop in Afghanistan ten years later would I revisit that group of friends. [RIP good buddy]
Fast forward today, I am often confused with a formerly served military man. It's either in how I conduct myself publicly, or even as far as how I fuss at my boys. When someone thanks me for my service it is always uncomfortable for me to say thank you, but I did not serve. Oftentimes it catches the thankful one off guard. Having so much respect for the ones who have served, I'm compelled to say thank you, but I did not serve. Only after years of saying so have I polished my thankful response. I follow it up by saying thank you, but I did not serve, the military however did have a big impact on who I am today.
My younger, middle brother joined the Army a couple years after high school.. yeah, that delivery went over like a fart in church! The family was NOT happy. I was neutral honestly. I am not a regretful person at all. With all that's gone on in my life I've been very content with my life. Only within the last few years have I had an honest what-if kind of thoughts. I think it's connected to having not joined mixed with the almost idea, the patriotic loyalty I have, etc... all of which has passed along a deep feeling that I feel like I missed out.
Like, truly missed out.
The life I have today would not be what it is had I ever joined. The relationship I have with my bride, Chas, and the life we've created with our boys, Avin and Tristan, would likely not be here. For that, I am thankful for having chosen that path - a different path.
That doesn't take away the want for having been part of that experience - especially with the constant reminder of people asking if I did serve. I can just intellectualize that understanding of why not - and I am ok. :)
his past Thursday was Veterans Day. It's a day I wish our country gave a full month's worth of love and care to like other social groups' celebratory reasons... but here we are. Knowing how I grew up as a kid, who I've unprovokingly become as an adult, the life of patriotism I have, the love I have for service people all compounded by different reasons for not joining, Veterans have a VERY special spot in my heart.
I've spent countless time thinking about today's post - largely Veterans Day motivated... I think about all the other commercial based "veteran thankfulness" they convey.. it's delivered with SOOOOO much "social commercialization" that the genuineness appears to be lost in the message.
Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy that we can give thanks to them... although I didn't live in the Vietnam era, I'm sad at how much grief our vets received during that time.. very sad. I just think there's the right kind of delivery.
There's a house in our neighborhood that's the first house of the bunch, it's on the right hand side and if you're coming into the hood, you have to pass the home. There's a sign they made, by hand, one that's colored in pencil and marker, surrounded by small American Flags that says "Thank you Veterans".. the way that message conveys is (at least to me) a genuine unaltered thanks... I feel it every single time I pass it.
Call it motivation for top of mind right now, but I feel it.
From the deep inside, bottom of my heart - for all vets - thank you for your service. It's a decision you made that I decided to not make.. and I respect you for that. I would have enjoyed that kind of decision, however being the age I am today, the life I've lived today, there's no take backs.
The best thing I can do is give back. And dammit! We do as much as we can! Although we did not choose that kind of life of special service, serving our service people into their next chapter in their life brings great joy.
Until we cannot do anymore...
Until we cannot help anymore...
We do not take you~
Your willingness to sacrifice yourself,
Or those who've sacrificed their all.
My family is grateful to you.
I am grateful to you.
I cannot imagine,