This is my first Veteran’s day without my buddy. We’d figure out where to go to eat even if we couldn’t meet up so, I’m not so enthused this year. However, not making the scramble out to grab something delicious has given me time to reflect.
I can’t possibly speak for anyone but myself, but I have a sneaking suspicion that some other Vets may agree. While “Thank you for your service” is a very kind gesture and greatly appreciated, how do you expect us to answer you? It puts me in an inward conflict because I know my join up story.
I was looking for a way up and out at 17 years old. The Navy had a ladder and a door. I didn’t sacrifice anything for you at MEPS, I just bet the house on me and I’m grateful to have had the chance to change my life.
I don’t know how many other veterans will tell this truth, but that’s why I feel weird when I get thanked. It’s like we warp into a twilight zone where we don’t know that the system is established in a way that if you don’t have certain access or resources there’s only a few honorable ways to get up. So in essence it feels like “Thank you for not selling drugs and robbing people.” Or “Thank you for not going after loans at 18 and having a hard time paying them back after you graduate with no experience.”
What else was I supposed to do? Work my way up to manager at Panera and use the tuition reimbursement to get my degree somewhere inside of my 60hr workweek? While I know some people that have done just that, I know I would’ve been wasting Panera’s money pulling out just enough to pass. I also know I’d never get into my current field which is what I’ve wanted to do since watching Jerry McGuire in theaters.
I will forever be grateful for the opportunity that I was given to learn how to be a grown-up with a steady income at 18. I learned how to protect my credit, assert myself, wire Cat5 cables, patch satellites, fill out forms, do my own taxes, setup a LAN party to play Unreal Tournament (the mother of Fortnite) and make friends with people that know nothing about my heritage. I also learned how to be ok if I never see good friends again.
This Veteran’s Day I’m flipping that awkward moment and I’m thanking you. Thank you for paying your taxes. Thank you for electing republicans after getting scared watching the news. Thank you for making me feel noble for being un-wealthy and lawful.
Now, I don’t want to end on a sour note and have you dismiss everything I’ve shared so far. I joined for myself, but I served to hold up the idea that we’re supposed to be free to have options, opinions and opportunities. So the best way to celebrate this day honorably, is to live in liberty ✊🏾.
Happy Veteran’s Day… #ohimstillwokethough