A Veteran

I am a weenie. How big a weenie am I? I am such a big weenie that I’ve struggled with whether I’d have the internal fortitude to shoot an intruder. I’m such a weenie that even in the defense of my own life or my own home, I’m not sure I could do what needed to be done. My cowardice shames me. My fear and lack of resolve–my inability to be sure that I would do the right thing, if pressed–makes me weak. I know this.

And so, I’m full of respect for those who would take up arms and defend a nameless, faceless me, not knowing me, and do it without doubt and with resolution.

A soldier hasn’t formed a relationship with me. He isn’t taking or shooting a bullet because he likes me so much that he wants me to live. Frankly, I worry that if said soldier knew me better he’d step out of the way and let nature take its course. No, a soldier fights and dies for me because he’s defending an idea greater than me: That freedom is worth fighting for and that even my little slice of freedom is worth defending.

I find this profoundly humbling. When I see a soldier stride past me in the airport, on his or her way to do his or her business, I feel a strange mixture: A debt of gratitude that can’t be paid back, pride in their greatness, and humility that they can do what I fear I’m incapable of.

The fact is, I don’t know what I’m capable of and I don’t want to know. I hope to never be tested this way. And yet a soldier or a marine walks toward his or her fears, confronts them, and conquers them.

A Veteran knows things: He knows life is precious, because he’s seen life cut short. He knows life is strange, because those that should die live and those who have the most life sometimes die. He knows life is not easily wrapped up in a box philosophically. He knows that plans fail. He knows there’s such a thing as luck. A veteran chooses his hard lessons and walks toward them.

I am grateful for those who volunteer and serve. Their honor, duty and defense of the weak means I can sit here and type and ponder my character while they go fortify theirs through tough choices and action. Thank you to all who give me this luxury.


Veteran’s Day: A true celebration.

Ode to a Warrior.

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