11 November 2008

Veteran's Day

Another Veteran's Day has come to pass.

I am proud to be a veteran of this country.

As I put on my desert camo uniform this morning in preparation for the Veteran's Day program that was being held at the school district where I work, many fond memories of my time in the military passed through my mind. I find that I truly do miss being a part of the military environment. I have not seen any of the men with whom I served in Iraq since returning home in April 2004. I think about how fun it would be to head out for a couple cold ones and reminisce about some of the experiences we shared while deployed.

I consulted my journal to see what I did on Veteran's Day 2003.

-No, I did not get the day off.

We had another security mission near Ad Diwaniyah. This one was at the Ministry of Roads. The Major had a pretty long meeting there and we were the escort and protection. My love of learning language had me chit chatting with many of the locals and trying to improve my Arabic. A couple of rascally kids continuosly tried to get me to give them some money. I wrote that I wish France had some troops in Iraq so that I might have an opportunity to practice my French with them.

Turns out that this was the day before the Italian compund in An Nasiriyah was lit up by a car bomb. It was only about 5 miles from where we were at the time. We were on our way to An Nasiriyah when we heard the blast and figured it was just EOD taking care of some more ordinance but it was not long after that we got a call to return to camp... but that is another story.

So this morning I stopped at the Holiday Station to get some cappuccino and an apple fritter and I was greeted right away at the door by a gentleman who proceeded to thank me for my service and shared that he, too, had been overseas to Iraq with the first wave. We did not have time to exchange stories but it goes to show that there are a lot of us out there. It was very nice to spend the day knowing that people were thinking of the sacrifices that we made and appreciating that which we have given.

I sat and enjoyed some coffee and cookies with an elderly gentleman that had served in WWII after the program at the school. It is so interesting to learn of the stories that others have about the time they spent. In many ways, the experiences we each had were not that different. While there may have easily been 40 years between us we were connected in spirit as veterans who both fought for our country and were willing to die for that friend whose back we leaned on so many times for support.

You don't have to wait for Veteran's Day to thank a veteran for all they have been willing to do, their sacrifice, their heart.

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