A Memorial Day Reflection on Military Service

Many veterans talk about how serving in the military changed their lives, making them focused, determined, confident,  all traits they gain during their military

 

Arlington National Cemetery rows of white headstones,

They took to their graves what it meant to them to serve their country.

training and hone through experience. They carry those traits with them for the rest of their lives.

What they don’t talk about is the fear before battle or the regrets for actions or decisions taken or not taken. They also don’t talk about the guilt for the ones who didn’t make it, those who we remember today, Memorial Day.

It starts with the enlistment oath to defend and protect our Constitution that every enlistee takes.

This is what they affirm:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

If you are active or retired military personnel, thank you for your service. You have touched more lives than you will ever know. There is one more thing you need to do for your country and all of us who live in it. You need to tell us what it is like to be afraid and yet to go forward. You need to tell us what its like to regret what happens in war,  even as you know it is unavoidable. You need to tell us what it means to you that you lived to come home from war while others did not.

We relate to one another through a framework of shared experiences. Those things that remain hidden create barriers between us. If you don’t tell your story, how can the rest of us understand what war, or military service, really means? How do we understand your sacrifice?

Live Honest, Open and True

Today, if you are a veteran, make an effort to start talking about your military experience and what it means to you. If you are not a veteran, make an effort to thank the veterans you know for their service to you.

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How do you live with honor and commitment? Tell me about it in the comments or tweet me @lifeishotblog with the hash tag #LifeIsHOT!

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