Today is Veteran's Day. Veteran's Day is on November 11th every year to commemorate the day that the fighting in WWI stopped. In 1954 it was made a National holiday to show appreciation to anyone who has served in the United States Armed Forces.
For most of my life Veteran's Day was a day off of school in November. For most of my life war, and all that it entails, has been on the periphery of my life. My grandfather was in the Coast Guard but outside of that I just didn't really have any exposure to the military. I am a smart enough person that I have always appreciated the men and women that choose to serve our country but I never felt like it impacted my life in a direct way. Like I said, it was always on the periphery, an ignorance is bliss situation.
I remember when I found out that Josh had joined the Army. I was 17, so we had known each other for about four years, Up to that point the only thing I really knew about war, so to speak, was what happened in the First Gulf War. I was nine when all of that went down. I remember watching the news and watching the air strikes but that was really all. This was also pre-9/11 so that hadn't even come in to play yet. The day he left for boot camp I said goodbye and walked home crying. I don't even know if I knew why. I was a senior in high school, we hadn't dated in three years, but I knew in my gut that this was huge.
I still have all of the letters and pictures that he sent from boot camp, and from Kosovo. How I managed to hold on to those for so many years, through so many moves, I'm not sure. From the moment that he went to Kosovo I worried. 9/11 made it worse. Then when he went to Iraq the first time I worried more. I dreaded the phone call from my mom, or from his. Through all of this we weren't together, we were married to different people. I kept in touch with him and checked in the best I could. Most of this was before Skype but there was e-mail and messenger. Even though I worried and checked in to make sure he was okay, the enormity of everything that was happening was still on the periphery of my life here.
We've been together, for real, for about a year and a half now. I didn't have to go through war with him, but now I get to see what the transition to civilian life looks like. Not just for him but for the men and women that he served with. Listening to their stories, and watching them deal with, what has to feel, like mundane every day life brings a level of appreciation and understanding that I never had before. How to you go from full out, blowing shit up war, to an everyday job? Or college? How do you go from worrying about an entire company of men to just taking care of your family? Once you have been in a combat situation it brings a whole new perspective to life. One that I see in Josh and every single soldier he's brought in to my life. They are an entirely different, and pretty awesome, breed.
It embarrasses me to realize how much of my life I spent being ignorant to war and it's casualties. Not just those that we lose but what get's lost for those who come home. What every single Veteran has to deal with on a day to day basis. I have a whole new level of understanding and patience. Not to mention the respect. It's a level of respect that I can't even put in to words. To make the choice to serve your country, to take on that level of responsibility, to put your country before your life. You can agree or disagree with war and why our government and country makes the choices it does, but you have to respect that kind of commitment and sacrifice that is required to choose your country before anything else.
So, Happy Veteran's Day to all of those who have served and still serve. Happy Veteran's Day to the families and support systems of our Veterans. Thank you for everything you do and have done to make sure that I can live my day to day life and maintain my freedom.
And last but not least Happy Veteran's Day to my own personal hero. Who, is my hero not just for his service to this country but also because he chooses to get up everyday and support me and our little life that we have built. He brought a whole new view and perspective to my life, one that I love and can't believe I didn't have before. He continues to show me day in and day out that you don't need a cape to be a hero and that is a gift I'll never be able to show enough appreciation for.