Going to Applebee’s to receive a free entrée on Veterans Day is a perk, but this day is not reserved for my applause.
Originally coined as Armistice Day by President Woodrow Wilson on Nov. 11, 1918, to commemorate the end of World War I, it aimed to show gratitude to those who died in the conflict.
President Wilson said, “…the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service…”
I feel quite uncomfortable when friends and family members thank me for my service overseas. I am in good health physically and mentally while some veterans can’t say the same.
Veterans Day is a public holiday for veterans, including myself, to take a second to think about the lives that have been lost on a daily basis.
One of my most prominent memories revolves around the last days of my third deployment overseas to southern Afghanistan in 2008. We had already starting packing up the gear in preparation of our return home when an improvised explosive devise detonated, killing San Sim, Adrian Robles and Deon Taylor during a routine patrol.
Usually after a patrol, people are excited to get some food, play cards or start some ridiculous contest which leads to something idiotic but comical in the same regards.
This time, we all took a seat at the foot of our cots, seemingly glancing down at the dirt under our feet, trying to rationalize the event that just occurred. My thoughts were centered on the families of these men who were soon to have visitors in full dress uniform to deliver the bad news.
Sim was born in the Philippines as his family fled Cambodia, his country of ethnic origin, after genocide broke out in the mid 1970s. He was backdated citizenship to the date of his death.
He was a light-hearted young man whose biggest motivator was to re-unite with his wife and son, who celebrated his first birthday days before his father’s death.
Our unit, 2nd Battalion 7th Marines located out of 29 Palms, California, received unwanted notoriety from the press after the unit sustained roughly 150 casualties and had 20 members killed during the seven month deployment to the Farah and Helmond Provinces. The unit was known as having the most casualties of any Marine Corps unit in 2008.
In many regards, this event has been the defining moment of my life to this point. Veterans Day serves as a benchmark to assess my life since that event over four years ago.
Many Americans may have “war fatigue” from being bombarded with death on a regular basis. For some of you, we have been in this military conflict for over half of your life, and you may have tuned out years ago.
There are over 450 self-identified veterans here at Ferris, according to Adam Forbes, the Ferris Veteran Program Specialist. Each one is observing this day in a different way; I hope you can hold these people and their families in your thoughts on Sunday.