Tonight I’ll be talking again with my children about Veteran’s Day, what it means to me, and what I hope it will mean to them. At ages of 7 & 10 it’s still pretty abstract, but worth a few minutes to build on what we talked about last year.
I joined the military not long after I turned 18. It was a job, maybe a career, a big adventure, and one of the more formative times of my life. I don’t know that I spent any time worrying or even thinking about the possibility of being injured or killed. I’d like to think I understood the depth of commitment that came with taking an oath to “…to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic….”. Only words, but important ones – it’s a moment to remember when you take the oath and sign your name.
It was exciting at times, more often boring. I got to play (and yes, at 18 it was play) with things that made big noises. I was never shot at. I served near the end of the ‘Cold War’ when the US vs USSR thing was still something that drove planning and practice – more than once being woken at 2 am for a ‘practice alert’ that required loading up live ammo and moving out to stop a Soviet invasion. I enjoyed the challenges, didn’t mind the discipline, and grew a lot. It was a good time. Eventually I decided it was time to do something else and though that decision was a long time ago, there are still days when I miss it.
I can tell my daughters what it was like, the good, bad, and ugly. I’ll tell my daughters that we should all pay our dues, that serving in the military is one way and a good way of doing that. I’ll remind them of walking through Arlington Cemetery with me and why we did, and that while I was lucky enough to serve and come home whole – many do not. I’ll tell them that wars often seem abstract, but the people that fight them never are.
It’s up to you if and how you recognize the day. Most veterans will appreciate a simple thank you and most would enjoy sitting over coffee and sharing some stories about their time serving.
5 thoughts on “Veterans Day 2013”
Great post Andy. While I never served in the military, my father joined the United States Marine Corp during the Vietnam War. He was drafted by the Air Force but he enlisted in the Marines because he wanted to learn to fight…his words. He eventually went on to retire from the Marine Corp after a lifelong career. My formative years were spent on military bases around the world, most of which were in Okinawa, Japan where I graduated high school and first decided I wanted to do something with computers. My Dad received his college degree while in the military and went on to be an officer. He always told me that no matter what else happened and not matter what I wanted to be he was going to put me through college. He never really encouraged or dissuaded me from joining the military but he did make sure and sacrificed much to make sure I went to college and received my degree. Many of my high school and college friends did join and serve, though and I have many colleagues in the IT world now that have served in the military in all branches. I salute you and each one of them along with my Dad today, whom I don’t always not get a chance to thank.
And I meant, whom I don’t always get a chance to thank. Thank you, Dad.
Rodney, thanks for the comment and the thank you too! It’s tough I think to be a Dad and decide whether or not to encourage your kids to join. It’s a good life, but it can be hard too, and then there is the risk. If they want to join I’ll do my best to help them understand the challenges and prepare for them, and if they don’t, that’s ok too – they’ll find another way to give back.
First off Andy, Thanks for serving. I too joined right out of high school as I knew if I went right to college I would be wasting someone’s money, and in the Marines, I definately found the discipline I was seeking. Funny enough, It was in the Corps working in the company office that I first started hacking away at a personnel database on Access 95. I remember looking up Database careers and saw the MCDBA cert as something I bet I could get the Corps to pay for, which I didn’t follow through with unfortunately. I didn’t find my way back to full-time databases until the last few years.
Jason, I wonder how many of us thought that way – time to go and do and grow, not yet ready to sit still in a classroom? I started using PC’s in much the same way, tracking shot records and M16 assignments a bunch more back before Windows took off because it was a lot easier to do it on the computer than not.
Thanks for serving.
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