It's weird but I never really thought at some point in my life I would ever reflect on Veterans Day with as much pride as I do now. I wasn't in the Air Force for any real length of time...6 years is all. But, they still call me a Veteran and I almost feel guilty claiming that title. I joined the Air Force for selfish reasons really. Not with the idea that I would be proudly serving my country, but as a means to end. I wanted to get my student loans paid off and then finish school while I was serving. Perhaps even get a job with the FBI when I got out. I never realized that I would ever get to the point where I could truly feel pride when I told someone I had been in the Air Force. I didn't understand that concept at all. Now here I am, some 15 years later and I'm lucky if I can get through the Pledge of Allegiance or the National Anthem without bawling. I learned a lot while I was selfishly serving, but I think the most important lessons that I took from the experience were these:
- I came to know exactly what Patriotism means and why it is so important to pass on to my children.
- I became associated with true Patriots and Veterans who chose to selflessly serve our country for the right reasons and loved/love doing it. I think of these people often, especially during this time of war and wonder where they are; but I know exactly what they are doing and I feel much love and gratitude for these soldiers/airmen/seamen/marines.
- I learned a lot of lessons in patience, strength; both emotional and physical, perseverance, and even more lessons in self awareness.
- I learned that despite its flaws, we live in a pretty great country.... and I understand fully what it means to be "Proud to be an American".
So, on this Veterans Day I guess I not only want to send out a cyber 'Thank You' to those who have served and continue to serve but I wanted to also express thanks for my experience in those 6 short years and say that even though I didn't physically fight or even sacrifice much, I am very proud of what I did give and even more proud to tell those stories to my children. I love that they are proud to tell their friends that their Mom was in the Air Force (even though they are really just excited to tell them that I shot guns...Hoo-Rah!)