It is truly a gift to have a circle of great supportive family and friends. They are individuals that have the ability to empower you to be, perhaps, more confident, assertive, and brave. How often are we challenged to view the world from a unique and different perspective? Sometimes, character building qualities are evident in a career path. Every year, thousands of young adults discover their lives have changed for the better. It may begin with a decision to leave what is familiar and begin a new chapter. Through the lessons of punctuality, listening and following directions, a personal change takes place. Stepping forward may be defined as wearing a respected uniform and polished shoes, maintaining a clean-cut and orderly appearance, and learning how to maintain eye contact when speaking to others. Often, improved attributes influence not just each person who wears the uniform, but those who witness the transformation from civilian to airman, Marine, sailor, or soldier. It is easy to admire a father or mother, brother or sister, aunt or uncle, cousin or best friend, who seeks a life of service and learns adaptability and tenacity, teamwork and respect, and the need to help others. We learn so much from our loved ones and friends that at times, we need to recognize and appreciate their unique gifts.
Colonel Marty Dickens, RET, has pondered about those early lessons in the Air Force. Col. Dickens writes, “Everything we were working toward was going to be successful if we did it as a team. There was no room for anything except mutual respect and cooperation if we were going to be effective and efficient to accomplish our mission. Someone had to be the leader, and that leader was going to build a highly functioning team if he or she respected every member of the group, in turn, earned their respect by being honest, and working hard. To this day, I am who I am in large part because I learned the value of respect, teamwork, and strived for a solid work ethic.”
For 15 years of her life, Victoria has watched her dad leave for deployments spanning from four months to a year, but through his service, she realizes her dad is torn between wanting to be in two places. Yet still he goes. There is meaning behind his words to, “Always put 100% effort into every task and to believe in yourself.”
A Best Friend
Floyd Martin has considered his friendships with service members, both serving and retired, and speaks from the heart. Martin writes, “They love our country differently than most Americans do. Not that they love it more, just differently. They don’t just love America and the Constitution, they are compelled to act on that love by putting themselves in hard and often unknown situations. A veteran doesn’t necessarily feel that what they have done in the service is any different than what most Americans do every day – work their job, help where they can, love their family, vote. For most veterans, being in the armed services is their job – it’s how they felt they could best contribute to society. They don’t necessarily feel like they’re heroes, but almost every one of them will say the ones that died while in service are indeed heroes; so, we need to treat them with understanding, compassion, and encouragement. We need to show respect for their passion and what they do, just like we should for everyone who works every day to make America a better place.”
It’s never easy watching your spouse board a plane and leave for short to long deployments. When the phone rings, whether it is the middle of the night or mid-afternoon, most military spouses understand their country is first, and the home is second. It is a passion and a moral code that may be difficult to understand.
To know a man or woman who serves is a gift. To be present when a stranger’s arm reaches out and says, “Thank you for your service!” is truly a moment of great pride!