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.