Monday, May 28, 2012

Motivation Through Memory

One year ago on this calendar day, I was enjoying my last moments of freedom as a civilian.  On the Tuesday following I would begin out-processing at Peterson Air Force Base and prepare to embark on my own journey of military service.  Eight and a half weeks later, I would reaffirm my commitment to our nation and take the oath of enlistment, this time as an Airman First Class, no longer a civilian.

While I am proud to serve my country and of my brothers and sisters in arms, today is not about us.  Today is about those who've gone before us and who've made the ultimate sacrifice.

Back in early 2008, I purchased my first motorcycle.  I had always been inspired by the mission of the Patriot Guard Riders, and I knew that when I felt comfortable riding that I wanted to participate.  When invited by the families of the fallen, the PGR will attend and honor service members along every step of their final homecoming.  They establish flag lines at the airport for their arrival, escort the coach whenever it is transporting our fallen hero, and again establish a flag line at the chapel and/or final resting place.  I've had the honor of being present at countless memorials for true American heroes, some of whom only received their citizenship posthumously.  I didn't know these individuals on a personal level, but I saw in the faces and tears of their loved ones the lives that they'd impacted, in life and death.

Through the Patriot Guard, I had the opportunity to meet and learn about the experiences of other veterans, including many who fought in Vietnam.  I learned little about the Vietnam War in my schooling - The Things They Carried wasn't read at my school, as it is in the one I teach in now.  The Patriot Guard provided me the education I missed, but with tangible legacies and raw emotions.

It seemed fitting that my last day as a civilian was Memorial Day 2011.  For me there was no better way to honor the fallen than by taking a stand myself, and enlisting in the military.  The memory of all of those who've made the ultimate sacrifice, the legacies left by family and friends, all of these factors motivated and inspired me to finally make that commitment for myself.

On this Memorial Day, I encourage you to take a few moments out of your day, if nothing else, and remember those who've sacrificed their tomorrows to preserve our todays.

4 comments:

TheAlbrechtSquad said...

Wonderful post!

Thank you.

Jamie said...

Amen!

bibliophile21 said...

Wonderfully said<3 My husband is an Army Veteran and although he appreciates the "thank you's" that he gets today, he feels much like you. It is not Veteran's Day but Memorial Day- this is not the day to focus on him but to remember those who aren't here for us to thank in person.

Erin said...

Thanks everyone! I feel uncomfortable even on Veteran's Day, because I'm not a veteran yet, in the strictest sense of the word. I have not yet been deployed and directly served in a conflict. One day!