I have several friends and relations who have served or are currently serving in some form of military service. I myself never served. I went straight to college after high school to pursue higher learning. Many of my friends chose the same path. At that time, the Cold War was winding down, so there wasn't a great emphasis on military service.
Talking now to friends who chose the military over college, or choosing military as a means to pay for college, I believe it's something that I missed out on. Not because I'm dying to strap a gun on and go racing into battle with bloodlust. Most of the military people I know don't relish the moments when they've had to face an enemy and consider killing a fellow human being.
But there is a bond those of us who never served will never understand. You can't share this kind of relationship with the person in the office next to you. You can't share it with the co-worker whom you share a common cubicle wall with. This is a relationship that comes from being knee-deep in danger with someone who you're asked to trust your life to -- and likewise, their life is in your hands.
I received the following from one of these friends and I want to dedicate it to all who have served this country in times of peace and in times of war. The term hero is used loosely in this country. Sports figures, musicians, movie stars -- these are not heroes. Those who wear government issued camouflage to work every day, they are heroes. May your service and dedication never be forgotten.
When a Veteran leaves the "job" and retires to a better life, many are jealous, some are pleased, and others, who may have already retired, wonder if he knows what he is leaving behind, because we already know.
1. We know, for example, that after a lifetime of camaraderie that few experience, it will remain as a longing for those past times.
2. We know in the Military life there is a fellowship which lasts long after the uniforms are hung up in the back of the closet.
3. We know even if he throws them away, they will be on him with every step and breath that remains in his life. We also know how the very bearing of the man speaks of what he was and in his heart still is.
These are the burdens of the job. You will still look at people suspiciously, still see what others do not see or choose to ignore and always will look at the rest of the Military world with a respect for what they do; only grown in a lifetime of knowing.
Never think for one moment you are escaping from that life. You are only escaping the "job" and merely being allowed to leave "active" duty.
So what I wish for you is that whenever you ease into retirement, in your heart you never forget for one moment that you are still a member of the greatest fraternity the world has ever known.
God Bless the U.S. soldier and all of the family and friends who have felt their sacrifice first hand.