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These words are my diary screaming out loud

Friday, November 11, 2011

You're welcome?

Its not that I have trouble calling myself a veteran. I mean, it sounds a little funny, because when I think of veterans I think of the old guys in the funny hats that I see at ceremonies and special events. I don't think about young people like me, people that most don't realize are veterans until they're told. But yeah, when people ask who in the room is a veteran, my hand goes up. I have veteran's preference at work. And on and on I could go.

So why is it that I feel so weird when people thank me for my service, especially on Veteran's Day? Maybe its because I didn't really DO anything. Sure, I was on active duty for 6 years, and I did a 7 month ship deployment to the Persian Gulf. But I've never been on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan like many of my friends and colleagues.  I was never shot at, or injured, or made to truly fear for my life.

But I understand that the TRUE 1% in this country are those who are willing to sacrifice and put on the uniform for the higher cause, who are willing to put up with the life that many would not be willing to lead. And I understand that I am part of that 1%. The fact that I didn't do some of the hard things that some of my friends and colleagues did, that some of my friends and colleagues died doing, shouldn't make my service any less than theirs. But it does, in my mind. Maybe that's just humility, or maybe in some strange way I'm a little ashamed that I didn't do some of that hard stuff, that part of the reason I left the service when my obligation was complete was so I didn't have to. I know I shouldn't be, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with serving honorably and taking off when my time is up. I live every day thankful that there are people willing to do the things that I didn't want to do. But then I remember that I'm one of those people, someone who did things that many, many people in this country were unwilling to do.

And that makes me feel just a little bit better about being thanked for my service. I guess. But not completely.

So please don't be offended if you thank me for my service and I don't reply right away. You're welcome sounds odd to me, and I've been told its bad form to say that there's nothing to thank me for. I appreciate your thoughts today, and in my mind I'm passing them along to all those who came before and those still yet to come, those who have done and will do those things that I was very glad to not have to do. They need that thanks far more than I do.

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