From a young age I was instilled with a deep love for my country, a sense of honor and duty to always take a stand for what so many before me have fought and died for. The military was handed down through the generations of my family; it was a right of passage. I remember sitting entranced as my grandfather recounted terrifying stories of war, impossible tales of heroism, gut-wrenching memories of loss and sacrifice and awe inspiring accounts of friendship and the bonds of brotherhood. In addition to my grand father’s stories, my father would also tell stories of honor and duty from his own years served in the Navy during the Viet Nam war. They were (and remain) my heroes. They were strong and brave and they stood for something greater than themselves. I knew I wanted to be exactly like them, I wanted to stand tall and proud and tell my own stories to my children someday. I wanted to leave them a legacy of purpose as my grand father and father had left for me.
The moment I turned eighteen I knew what my future held, I knew the path I would travel. Mine was to be a life lived upholding the great honor and duty that had been so deeply rooted in my heart since childhood. There was such a great sense of pride and purpose when I left home, sea bag slung over my shoulder, and headed off to boot camp which was followed by service in the United States Navy as an electronics technician.
I spent six years serving in the US Navy and along with the honor of service, I was afforded a specialized education, training for a career path that I was passionate about and a chance to see the world. The Navy showed me what it meant to be a man. It taught me to take responsibility for my adulthood and showed me the pride and purpose that comes from believing in and standing for something bigger than myself. My years in service taught me to be accountable for and appreciative of the sacrifice that this country is built upon.
I never saw war during my time in the military and I have a deep respect for those who have. I am thankful for the men and women who continue to serve our country. I have infinite gratitude for those who fight for the rights and the freedoms that we as Americans often take for granted. These men and women are true heroes. They are the shoulders upon which our freedom is carried. I will never forget those who have served and those who have died and I will forever be proud to call myself an American. We are the land of the FREE because of the BRAVE!
Today we celebrate those veterans who have served and are serving. Let’s be sure to remember them today. Take the time to stop and honor those among us that have given of themselves for this country.
Thank you for your service and your sacrifice.