Intro: This entry is shared by one of our Race Team members. This team member has special personal ties to the military and wanted to share an individual perspective in honor of Veteran’s Day.
With our military ties and theme, we are obviously regularly mistaken for military personnel ourselves. Sometimes I feel almost guilty that people make this mistake and thank us for our service. At the same time, I am proud that we are able to be tied to them in any way, even if only by affiliation of our event theme and hosted location. I am proud, not to earn undue respect and gratitude, but to be given the opportunity to help support a military installation through positive media and donations.
Yesterday was Veteran’s Day. With that in mind, I hope you don’t mind me getting a little more personal than usual. I am going to speak from a personal perspective, so please know that I am in no way trying to speak on behalf of military people everywhere and I have no goal or agenda in sharing this other than discussing an element of the human experience and my pride in my ties to it.
My father is a veteran, as is my older brother—the Air Force and the Marines, respectively. Childhood in a military family is a unique experience. Stability can be inconsistent with one or more of the family figureheads gone for extended periods of time with minimal contact. It is a simultaneous source of pride and pain.
I think family dinners, holidays, birthdays… are all things that people can take for granted. For most of my birthdays my dad was on a ship or stationed somewhere far away out of contact. It was before the drastic technology boom made contact with families and loved ones at least somewhat more accessible. I think when you’re younger it can be harder to appreciate the sacrifice that is being made by family members. Sometimes I was consumed by the only evident fact= they weren’t there. Something that made acceptance harder was that when my family members returned home… they weren’t the same person they were when they left. This wasn’t necessarily good or bad… it was just different. In my experience, there is something about the military life that seems to change people. It seems like the things that they have seen and the things that they have done are ingrained in them forever. So much of my experience with my ties to the military has not been easy. It has had a dramatic impact on my life and on my family dynamics as a whole. But throughout it all, I know that I am fortunate in that my family has always returned to me, even if they aren’t who they used to be.
When growing up in a military family, my expectations were altered. They had to be. I didn’t expect people to be there for every occasion, but I tried to appreciate when they were. I was guilty of taking this for granted too at times, but ultimately I had to be strong for the sake of those around me. I always felt like staying strong at home was the least I could do when my dad and brother were busy risking their lives for our country and our freedom. Their sacrifices made it possible for me to have food, to go to school, to feel safe. Though it was hard at the time, I am forever grateful for that.
I am not sharing my personal family history for appreciation, pity or any undue sympathy. But military life is an undeniable part of my worldly experience, and I know that is true for numerous people out there. It helps define people and impacts people’s lives in ways they may not even realize. I divulge because I am someone who tends to find comfort in shared experiences with others. Today, yesterday, or any other day, whether or not you have ties to the military, I hope we can all take the time to acknowledge the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. This year, my dad retired as a disabled veteran: Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserves. Though words will never really feel like a worthy trade, I want to say THANK YOU to my dad, to my brother, and to all the men and women who sacrifice family time, birthdays, holidays and more irreplaceable time and memories in order to protect our country.
Here are a few recommendations on how you can support and/or learn more about veterans and the sacrifices they make:
There are Veteran’s organizations that exist to both support those who have served as well as to educate the surrounding community at large. They can also provide the opportunity to get involved and actively support their mission. Two well known nationwide organizations that have local branches are the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion. If you’re not sure how to express your gratitude… you can contribute to an organization such as these, personally thank a veteran for their service, or simply send positive regards their way. The sacrifices they make are ones we’ll never truly understand without personal experience. With the freedom we are provided by our brave military, we can honor them and we can thank them.
The base which we operate out of is the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos. Since I know I won’t be able to do it justice, I encourage you to visit this link: http://www.militarymuseum.org/LosAl.html for more information about the origins and history of JFTB. I also recommend visiting http://www1.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetdayhistory.asp for some background information on how the celebration of Veteran’s Day came about. “In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day (*became Veteran’s Day in 1938) will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”
And just in case you’re sappy like me, here’s a link to a video about a marine surprising his brother: http://youtu.be/YiFh9DJJpPM
Check out www.welcomehomeblog.com if you enjoy seeing those little surprise homecoming visits as much as I do!