People often ask why do people join the military? I can not answer that question for everyone however for many in my generation the story goes something like this. We were 17,18, or 19 years old when we enlisted. Graduating from high school was important, but the future we had dreamed of was finally here. That was the day we got to run off the bus and be welcomed by: “Move your—” …I’ll say, “feet,” but we know what was really said. We watched as the bus emptied and the yelling got louder. Some of us laughed on the inside. We did not dare to laugh out loud. Then, of course somebody did, and we heard the voices get louder and say, “All of you get down in the pushup position!” We did push-ups in cadence, saying “one sir, two sir, three sir,” and so on until our elbows got weak and us new recruits started to fall. Then all at once we heard, “Stand at attention!” This was what we had all waited for. Some of us had hair down to our shoulders, others were almost bald. We gathered our yellow folders and went to the reception building with the constant yelling we had longed to hear: “Move, move! “
You see, some of us knew at a very young age what we wanted to do, no matter how good we were at football or basketball, or if we were smart enough to go to Harvard. This was what we wanted: to be in the U.S. military, the strongest military in the world; it always has been and always will be. We had the heart and desire to stand tall and risk our lives for but one thing: the very freedom that had cost the lives of so many in battle. But they were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. They gave their lives for freedom, not only for their family and friends but for our country, to make sure the red white and blue flew. We won’t forget or disgrace the men and women who died to keep us free!
This Is Where We Stand
American troops of the past stood in the fields of Germany, the cites of Japan, the freezing cold of Korea, the jungles of Vietnam, the sands of Iraq, and the mountains of Afghanistan. They fought day and night in some of the most extreme conditions. So why do people join the military? Its because of freedom; they were prepared to die for it. Today, they’re called Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., yet all they desired to be called was soldier, marine, airman, sailor, and yes, coastie. They laced up their boots, filled their canteens with water, grabbed a MRE and said, “Let’s do it today.”
Today they call us American servicemen and women. Tomorrow they will call us heroes.
Where Do They Come From?
There is no specific place in the United States where a military member comes from. A military recruiter doesn’t look at a map and say, “This is where we get our soldiers, marines, airmen, or sailors.” Recruits come from all walks of life, from the cities of New York and Los Angeles, to the farms of Ohio, to the suburbs of Chicago. But they all have one thing in common: the desire to be an American military service member, no matter what pain or sorrow they had to go through It is kind of astonishing that a lot of our military members come from such small towns. Their grandparents fought, their dads, uncles, brothers, sisters, moms fought, and so, they would too. They fought for freedom, not to be called heroes but to be called veterans.
How They Want to Be Remembered?
I have spent 14 glorious years in the military. I have been shot in Iraq, blown up in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb, and have suffered severe leg damage from a pressure plate IED in Mosul. I have spent the last 16 months at Walter Reed Medical Center where I have had numerous surgeries to save my leg. I have met the wounded and injured. I have met the families who have lost a son, a daughter, a dad, a mom. The unique thing is that not one of them said I am a hero. I haven’t met one family member that has said they want the loved one they lost to be remembered as a hero. What they do say is, “They are my hero because they risked their lives so we can stand here today just to thank them for the sacrifice they made.”
I myself don’t wish to be called a hero. I just want to be called a soldier who fought for freedom. I don’t think many service members would see it differently. We all want the same thing, and that’s to hear the National Anthem, salute our flag, and to remember the ones who gave their lives for the freedom we all enjoy each and every day. We are all proud to be Americans where at least we know we are free! We won’t ever forget the men and women who gave that right to us. Our life for freedom!