Veterans Day 2011

Fri, 2011-11-11 11:59

Very few holidays stand out to me. It's fun seeing the kids dressed up on Halloween, or searching for the right Valentine’s Day card, but typical holidays come and pass and don't really faze me. However, when Memorial Day and Veterans Day approach, I feel overwhelmed with emotion. I appreciate the warm messages from fellow veterans, friends still serving and those I used to serve with that have moved on to careers in the civilian sector. But I wish there was a way to say thank you to those who are no longer with us. They deserve all the thanks.

Lately I've been thinking back to one specific evening in northern Iraq. I was working in Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, which is located in the Salah ad-Din province. It's amusing that we always joke about how our parents and grandparents had to walk uphill to school, both ways. Our base was at the edge of the city in what was the former presidential compound. I used to walk to and from work most days in Tikrit. It was about one and a half miles. It was often well over 100 degrees, and I always had 40 lbs of gear, including my weapon, with me. Although ironic, the last several hundred feet of the walk were uphill (only one way though). 

One specific evening, we heard the usual evening explosions of indirect fire nearby. The insurgents liked to hit us around lunch and dinner time. If you were outside and near an explosion, it would rattle your core, sometimes stun you, and you instinctively looked for any casualties while seeking cover. If you were indoors, and it was far enough away, it would sound like you were inside a large freezer while someone slammed it shut. Things would shake, doors would rattle, you would account for everyone, look for or work on a situation report, and go about your business. A very kind man whose name I will leave out of this blog was attached to our unit. He was a cryptologic technician serving in the Air Force. He had a family, a great personality, and was trying to quit smoking. This particular evening, he was sneaking a cigarette outside our working area. When the rounds landed, they were so close to him that the shrapnel cut his legs out from underneath his body. The quick response of an Army officer nearby, who also happened to work as an EMT in the civilian sector, saved this man’s life. Two tourniquets stopped the blood flow, and although this airman lost his legs, he didn't lose his life.

In the days following, I would look at his sleeping cot, several feet from mine, and see the impression left from his body the last time he slept there. His personal items remained, but he never came back. Eventually our First Sergeant removed his items, and another brave female Air Force specialist took his place in our unit. It took me a long time to be able to sleep and not feel his presence in the room. I still think of him often, especially today.

It's appropriate that Veterans Day and Thanksgiving fall so close on the calendar. I'm thankful for my health, I'm thankful for my family, and I'm thankful to serve at Everblue with veterans working toward a mission that is larger than myself. At Everblue, we believe in sustainability, we believe in a strong energy policy for our country, and we believe in happy, productive employees.

In closing,  I will paraphrase one of my favorite poems:

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: 
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. 
At the going down of the sun and in the morning 
We will remember them."
-Lawerence Binyon

If you have served as a member of the U.S Armed Forces since September 11th, 2001, and have a DD214 document, contact us at 800-460-2575 or email, and we will make sure you receive a discount on a live course. It’s the least we can do.