Personal Reflections

A Veteran Reflects on Veterans Day

​It seems so very long ago, when I was in the Navy. So much has changed, yet so very much remains the same. I grew up in a Navy household, so I knew what I was doing when I enlisted. And I had no idea. The lessons I learned on that journey deeply inform who I am now. 
I served with a diverse group of people. I experienced the complexities of America first hand. This was my first real interaction so much of the American experience. Blacks, the amazing blend that gets labeled “Latino”, Muslims, Native Americans…with so many more. I served with farmboys from the midwest, Cajuns from the Bayou, city kids from New York, some from the Virgin Isles, Hawaii, Alaska, and, the oddest of all, people from my town, who even went to my high school. I served with gays and lesbians (and I was in when being such meant automatic expulsion). A dizzying expansion of my worldview, from the suburban micro-culture that was Lynnwood in the 80s.
I’m struck by the responsibility put upon such young shoulders. I operated and maintained nuclear reactors. Other teens and early twenty-somethings work with weapons of massive scale, from tanks to aircraft to nuclear weapons. It’s very sobering, in reflection, how much responsibility I had. I see, now, that I could’ve impacted lives with my actions. Or, rather, that I did. Fortunately, not for ill. 
After getting out, I was privileged to volunteer with several organizations serving veterans. It humbled me to see so many of my colleagues damaged so deeply by their time in the military. And that troubles me to this day. Their stories haunt me, and drive me. 
Veterans Day brings out a complex blend of feelings. All reside within my heart, now. So I remember these men and women, hold them in my  prayers. This blend of everything America is, good and ill, beautiful and destructive; remember us. We are you.