Continuing the Legacy
Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly
I remember sitting and intently listening to my grandfather and father talk about their time served in the military. I remember them sharing stories of heroism, death of close friends and the long lasting affects of being at war. I worry about my brothers both serving in the military, one a Marine and the other a Navy sailor. Neither have seen war, but ISIS is lurking around every corner and each and every day media reports another heinous crime committed by ISIS. I know it's not if my brothers will be deployed, but when.
My grandfather served in the Vietnam War and even after all this time he finds himself fighting the thoughts in his head praying not to go back. It's too painful and the faces of the dead still haunt him to this day. My father, who served in Desert Storm, has very different accounts about his time at war. His primary duty was to drive ammunition to the troops on the front line and even though he didn't fight, he remembers the rumbling of the ground as the scuds would fly over top of his location. There were nights he was asleep on a barge and would be awoken by the squeal of the scud flying over. The difference between my grandfather and father was the reception when coming home. Soldiers returning from the Vietnam War were treated with disrespect. They were called baby killers and spat on. Soldiers returning home from Desert Storm were welcomed and hailed as heroes.
I reflect back to my oldest brother's boot camp graduation. My family traveled to San Diego and I remember the morning vividly as we made our way through an intense security checkpoint before being allowed on base. The anxiety was more than I could handle as we made our way through the congestion of cars trying to find a parking spot. All I could think about was that I hadn't seen my brother for three months. He missed Thanksgiving and Christmas and now I was going to see my brother who left home a boy and was now a man holding the title of US Marine. All I could think about was my sense of patriotism and how proud I was that my brother chose to serve his country.
Then the proud, but dreaded words I didn't want to hear. My other brother announced that he was joining the Navy. Who would I have left to turn to, to laugh with, to cry with. I felt like a piece of my heart had been ripped out of my chest. I tried to remain supportive and always kept a smile on my face, but deep inside I felt lost. I was essentially losing my best friend. My brother excelled in boot camp and was named the Honor Recruit for his unit. That was a proud moment when my brother was called in front of a large group of spectators attending graduation and was recognized for his hard work, dedication and leadership. At that particular moment, I began thinking about serving my time in the military.
I am preparing to complete my senior year in high school and already I'm thinking about my future. When do I talk with a recruiter? What branch do I serve with? Will they have a job that I will enjoy? Am I strong enough to do this? I am constantly bombarded with these thoughts and begin questioning my own abilities but I always come back to my overwhelming sense of patriotism and my desire to serve my country. It reminds me of a country song by Craig Morgan, "If not there, then where, If not now, then when. If not this, then what else can I defend. Being gone and being scared, What else can I do. If not me dear God, If not me then who." I feel very strongly about my decision to join and I believe it will make me a stronger person later life when I have a family and a career.
I am honored to be part of a family who are proud to be Americans and are willing to fight for what they believe in. Americans should be driven by honor, value, dignity and strong, solid beliefs. I have grandfathers, a father, uncles and brothers who all have taken the oath to serve their country and protect the freedoms available to us. I want to follow in the footsteps of heroes and continue the legacy to serve and protect. I want to feel like I've made a difference and I truly feel serving in the military will a fulfill that need.