This is the hardest weekend of the year for some of us. It always puts life into perspective for me. It makes me dredge up the ones I had the honor of working on and with. It makes me purposefully and thoughtfully remember each of my fallen comrades with the accompanying visuals that most have luckily never been tasked with. It makes me go introspective and today I realized how few ever get a glimpse into that side. We value our silence and are never relieved to share our experiences out loud. I have no combat history that I’m willing to recount with people let alone put on paper but I would be humbled to share some insight into what you’re witnessing in myself and my fellow combat veterans this weekend and, in some cases, every weekend.
Nothing quite breaks me like the moment of silence followed by taps that was just played. I don’t ever make it through Memorial Day weekend without at least one complete break down. I heard from someone the other day that the shortest verse in the Bible is, “Jesus wept.” There is a message for all of us there in that simplicity. Arguably one of the most spiritual things we can do for ourselves in response to this verse is to have a good cry. I mulled this over and thought, “But how does one make one’s self cry?” This morning I was reminded. It never seems to hit me the direct correlation my military investment plays in my life until hindsight. Contrarily, my military life seems like such a life time ago I often feel as though it’s a movie clip I once witnessed as opposed to a memory I lived.
Often times when someone is recounting an adventure from that time of my life it takes me a minute to wrap my head around and believe that it was even me they are speaking of. Sometimes I even need visual evidence. It just feels so unbelievably foreign and the actions inconceivable.
I read an article this morning that nailed it on the head. It summarizes my breed in the following way:
“……It is rather a matter of unlearning the very skills that have kept them alive: unceasing vigilance; snap decision making; intolerance for carelessness; the urge to act fast and decisively. People who excel in combat tend to be assertive, active, excitement-seeking and enthusiastic. They immediately take in their surroundings; they have a high degree of external focus. But they’re able to switch internally, make a quick decision — then act and adjust as they go. Essentially the decision making and acting become second nature,”You do not want these guys thinking too much……well when they’re back in a civilian world that seems boring and frustrating…”
For all my disbelief of my history. All the movie reels of my life highlights this article knew me. THE ABOVE EXCERPT SPOKE DIRECTLY ABOUT ME. And that meant that it knew many of us. And so few can contemplate this superficially never mind completely.
I sent the above clip to my close crew and received the response, “Makes sense. No wonder you want to travel. Civilian life is boring.”
She is so right. That’s a lot of my motivation. But that’s not my only motivation. I’m also consumed by the first world problems surrounding us on a daily basis. When a vet says they’re indifferent it’s because they are. When a vet tells you to just order what you want, they mean it. When a vet acts like “it” isn’t a big deal it’s because it really isn’t. But if a vet loves you enough to call you out in accountability then I urge you to live into it. I can defiantly state that they have your best interest at heart and if they didn’t care they wouldn’t speak up. Loyal to a fault and committed to excellence consider it love that they want you to experience that depth with them.
We have seen trial. We have seen a big deal. We have experienced the bad side of things and witnessed worse. We are well aware of what is always at stake and what is always lurking in the shadows that we try and illuminate on our loved one’s behalf. We are also always carrying the ones that we know left it all on the field for that very purpose. So we say what we mean and mean what we say and that first world problem really isn’t that bad.
Nearest I can tell we vets all have the foundations in common. We care about very few things with a complete investment. But those things that we do care about we are passionate about and leave no room for fluidity. We function on honesty and integrity, not just our own, because we must be able to trust that the stranger or friend to our right or left has our best interest at heart. “No greater gift then a man that will lay down his life for a friend.”
This brings me to sacrifice. We have been taught and built to be willing to sacrifice for love; love of God, love of country, and love of family. Who in a vet’s life is not family? If you are allowed a space in a veteran’s life you are loved to a point of sacrificial investment. If you are trusted by vet you have a position of honor that is bestowed upon few.
We are indeed; hyper vigilant, quick to pass judgment and can throw up a wall of separation faster then you can blink. But we do that for you. Trust us that it is impeccable training coming to the surface. It protects you from our overreaction. It protects us from our reckless reclusiveness. It gives us all a proverbs perspective of a wise man holding his words.
We are a rare breed for sure. We are complete in a way that most of society will never know because we know what we have and what we really stand to lose. We are broken in a way that society will never be able to completely feel because of all we have lost in ourselves and others. What I can promise you is this though; we love you with a ferocity of a wolf, the protection and loyalty of a sheep dog and the heart of a warrior. You will never go without. You will never be in harms way as long as we are near. And we will never leave a man behind.
For all my fallen brothers, the ones that went before you and the ones that will follow you. You are not forgotten. I am grateful. Today I mourn, in the excess that you made possible, for the great loss this nation will never completely feel or understand. But I do not do this alone. There are others. Many others that know. We miss you. We love you. We are here, still walking the perimeter, living into our ordained roll as sheepdogs. We’re here looking after yours because that’s what you would do and we’ve got your 6!
*22 veterans commit suicide EVERY DAY if this is a cause close to your heart I encourage you to check out http://www.22kill.com.*
* As always I look forward to interacting on this journey with you. Please; share the blog, follow it, subscribe to the email, like and comment. It takes a village and I’m glad you’re part of mine.