75th Ranger Livefire | Jake Damec

Every early November, America finds itself under a con­stant barrage of retail sales, promos, and offers of free meals for American vet­erans. But  Veteran’s Day has absolutely nothing to do with a dis­count or a free entree from Applebee’s. As a soldier, Veteran’s Day has every­thing to do with the men I served with and why I’m thankful everyday that God granted me the vocation of soldier. In this vocation, God blessed me with the oppor­tunity to serve and fight alongside the best men America can produce.

To the out­sider looking in, there wasn’t a whole lot in common in outward appearance between my com­rades and I. Some of us hailed from the farm-towns of the Midwest, others from rough inner cities riddled with gang warfare, and some from the swamps of the deep south. The most noticeable traits we all shared was our mutual love for Copen­hagen long-cut, cheap beer, and an  unquenchable desire for excel­lence.

But past those lips filled with Copen­hagen, bodies covered by tattoos, and stern gazes, was a family. A family not related by blood, but by mutual affection and devotion to one another. We held our­selves to high stan­dards — in our physical abil­ities, tac­tical prowess, and devotion to duty, expecting each man to hold himself to the same. While we con­stantly com­peted against one another to see who was the best, this com­pe­tition wasn’t driven by per­sonal ambition, but by our devotion to give 100 percent and then some, to the man beside us. This unbreakable cama­raderie estab­lished a shared con­fi­dence in each other which could be relied upon without question.

Everyday I’m thankful for each one of these men who taught me about courage, duty, self-sac­rifice, and true patri­otism. They taught me priceless lessons, from descending by para­chute under the cover of night to giving their last full measure of devotion in battle. So this November 11th, just like every other day, I’ll give thanks to God for the four years of sol­diering he blessed me with and the lessons I learned from the best men America can produce.

Jacob Damec is a junior studying History and pre­vi­ously served in the United States Army.