Working in Minnesota has given me the opportunity to experience, first hand, the definition of "Minnesota nice". Here, perhaps more than anywhere I have ever served, I spend a good portion of each day stopping as passersby extend their hand and issue a genuine Thank-You. In the first ten years years of my career I accepted many such gestures and walked away proud. In the ten years since, I have received more appreciative hand-shakes than I could ever put a number on. Now of days though, the feeling it causes is somewhat different than the once proud sensation it caused back then.
Having been assigned to USAREC since 2000 and not afforded a deployable assignment , I have not been a part of the segment of our military that has earned those many supportive American gestures. I suppose the flag on my shoulder makes me a qualified "representative" of the people's goodwill, but I feel like I'm stealing something that doesn't belong to me each time it happens.
I cannot explain in simple words the feeling that hits me in the gut every single time I here the dreaded "you been over there?" UGH! Saying no to that question is a sickening prospect. I know, I've had to say it hundreds of times - often five or more times in a given day. If you've read my post a few months ago entitled "The Quest for the Patch", you know my story, so I will not rehash it in this post.
I say all that to say this: Armed forces Day is approaching and on this day, if no other time, its okay to accept that thank-you without feeling like it wasn't earned. Every service member, in every branch, in all components, with all backgrounds makes up one united Department of Defense. The day represents the importance of each of us in uniform. Combat Arms, support, never deployed, always deployed - for this one day, we're all back on equal footing. The military can't operate without every one of us doing what we enlisted to do. I know I represent a whole lot of Soldiers in my career field, all be it a small minority of the Army, when I say each of us are willing to do are part too, given the opportunity. To the thousands who have answered the call, and the mere hundreds who have not been able to, I say THANK YOU - each and every one, for the job you do every day in the name of defending our way of life, here and abroad. This is your day and may your day be blessed wherever you serve!
Until next time,