Saturday, May 16, 2015

Military Ties Past and Present

Today I am not just thinking about those currently serving in the armed forces but I am also thinking about all those with whom I have crossed paths with in my life, my family members who served, and my ancestors who wore a uniform. When I stop for a moment to reflect on all of these people it is amazing to think about how extensive that list is. And that list only gets longer when I consider those I shared a barracks with in the summer of 2002 and those I only knew in passing while at Norwich prior to my time in basic training.

When I think of my family my thoughts first turn to my father, my grandfather, and my great grandfather. I know a little about each of their times in the military and the rest I have done my best to put the pieces together. My father served in the Army during Vietnam, my grandfather in the Navy during World War II, and my great grandfather served in the Army during The Great War. These are only three men without whom I wouldn’t be the person I am today for a myriad of reasons.

When I look further back in the family and across the many branches, all branches of the military are represented including my uncle on my mom’s side who served in the Coast Guard, my uncle and great uncle on my dad’s side who served in the Air Force, and my great Aunts who enlisted in the Marine Corps during World War II. All branches represented throughout the course of history from the French-Indian Wars to the present day with several cousins still under contract with the government. It really is quite the extensive history.

While the family stories are things which come up on occasion (and there are some good ones), I hear a story or two at least once a month from many of the brothers at the lodge. These men represent over 75 years of military history from both peace time and times of war with many of them sharing vivid accounts of their service when the moment calls for their wisdom. It really is an interesting mix of experiences that have been shared before and after meetings.

Of course, there are the men with whom I attempted to serve. Some I remember vividly while others remain nameless in my memory. I have lost track of nearly all of them with only a single connection remaining to that brief time in Missouri. I regularly wonder about what happened to many and I think about what might have been the result had I completed training along with the rest of the “House of Pain”.

I am grateful to all these men and women that have served as well as those to whom I have no personal connection and I encourage you to think about the connections that you have to the various branches of the military. You may be surprised as well to find so many links to the branches that have safeguarded our country. Not everyone serves but we all benefit from the service of those who have honorably donned the uniform.