I’m an Army veteran. 5 1/2 years active duty and 6 months of reserve. I’m one of a generation of men who had to register for the draft and – in the year of the draft lottery – put our lives on hold while we waited to see if our number would be called. Men my age remember their draft lottery number. Mine was 165. My number was drawn on December 29, 1970. On January 1, 1971 I would have been clear.
I was one of the very lucky ones. I auditioned for, and was accepted into THE U.S. Army Band [Pershing’s Own] in Washington, DC. My son, on the far left of the photo, is now in the same band. We both went to Fort Leonard Wood for Army Basic Training and we share a common experience that most fathers and sons don’t have.
Last Christmas he went with the Sergeant Major of the Army’s holiday tour to Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan. I was there the morning he got dressed to go. He wasn’t a trumpet player. He was a soldier. He would perform when had to, but when he wasn’t on stage he’d have a weapon on his hip.
As I watched him go I was overwhelmed with fear, and he was going to be gone for 10 days. I can’t imagine what it must be like for the parents, wives, husbands, and loved ones of the men and women who are being deployed. I don’t know how they live their lives knowing that the person that they love is so far away and – in many cases – in harms way.
When one enlists in any of the Armed Forces one swears to support and defend the Constitution. To support and defend. Everyone on active duty and every veteran shares that common experience. We all, at some point, raised our right hand as swore to something without hesitation. It’s what separates us from those who have never served.
This is not a political statement. I’m not for war. Or against war. This is a parental statement. This is a thank you to all who have served and a thank you to all who have loved those who have served.
There have always been warriors among us. There are warriors among us now. Let us take a day to honor them, to celebrate them, and to remember them.
From one vet to all others, thank you.