I am a veteran. Did I ever mention that? I don’t talk about it much, though. It has been a little over twenty years, and sometimes I feel very detached from that experience. Nevertheless, I served my country, this country, honorably and without incident for a little over six years.
That is why during this past presidential election, each time I heard the term “real American” I bristled. I became outraged. How can you discount my years of service because I do not think as you do? How can you question my patriotism when I offered up the most valued possession of any—my life—for the well-being and continuance of our nation?
And I recall others who served with me and alongside me. I recall with awe and reverence those who went before me. In every conflict from the Revolutionary War until this present day, there have been those who look like me who have served and even given their lives for this country. And up until the Korean War, the opportunity to do so was given only begrudgingly, and even then, the conditions under which we served were decidedly inferior to the point of being utterly demeaning.
But I didn’t mean for this to be a rant. I only desired to point out and emphasize the service of many of those who are sometimes thought of as not being “real Americans.” And to be totally honest, I, like many of those who look like me, actually benefitted from my service to this country.
In fact, it is my service to this country that paid for my undergraduate education. In addition, my service to this country allowed me opportunities for leadership and travel that perhaps would not have been available otherwise at such a young age. I perhaps received more from my service than I gave, and I believe I am a much better person now, professionally and otherwise, because of that service.
So, I would just like to take the opportunity to wish my fellow veterans a happy and enjoyable Veteran’s Day even though it comes at an awkward time in the week. Thank you for your service.