Today is Thanksgiving, a day when we should be focusing on all of the things that we have to be thankful for. Family, friends, a home, a job, money in the bank – all things one would expect on that list. One thing that perhaps many of us may not stop and be grateful for on Thanksgiving is our military service. It is, however, on the top of my list this year.
I didn’t actually want to join the military. My reasons for not wanting to mostly came down to three things – I was utterly terrified of public speaking, I did not want to be an engineer (that was what my ROTC scholarship required), and my mother told me to. So many years later, I still hate public speaking (though it no longer makes me vomit or burst into tears), I didn’t have to become an engineer (the Air Force let me change to a dual major in Russian and German), and it has to be the best thing my mother ever made me do.
The military gave me so many things that I am thankful for – training, travel to places I likely would never have gone otherwise, skillsets I wouldn’t have been able to get anywhere else, a purpose, confidence, an ability to say “I was there” about items that will go down in history books, and relationships, so many relationships. Friends, mentors, even my husband. These relationships have added color to my memories and these people continue to be some of the most influential and important characters in the story of my life. (They are listed chronologically, in case anyone is wondering.)
Thank you to:
- Patricia (USMC), for throwing jellybeans at me when I wouldn’t get up for PT and for showing me what true dedication and courage look like
- Jared (USAF) and his wife, Christina, for being some of the most lovely and goodhearted people I’ve ever met and for making intel school a little bit easier
- Sara (USAF), for always introducing me to people, books, and ideas beyond what I would have discovered on my own
- Brandie (USAF), for having the guts to ask me if I “ever smiled” and for all the days since that you have been there for me – I am so grateful to have you as my best friend
- Col B (USAF), for always trusting in your people, even the LTs, and for all the practical jokes – you left this world too soon and you are missed
- JD (USA), for being my doppelgӓnger and making the WPC such an awesome place to work (not to mention introducing me to some of the best food ever at Graf)
- Col G (USAF), for giving me an opportunity to see close up how a true leader operates and for still mentoring me so many years later
- Arlene (USAF), for your compassion, for constantly rescuing me from the chaos at DLI, and for sharing your incredible parents with me
- Laurie (USAF), for always asking such insightful questions, being so supportive of my writing, and for the hilarious stories
- Rick (USA), for loving me and for teaching me to laugh at myself
- Chad, Andy, and Chris (USN) and Jason (Australian Army), for helping me survive Afghanistan
- Chinseta and John Paul (USMC), for being such genuinely lovely people and for being a bright spot in an otherwise dark time
These are only a few of the incredibly gifted, generous, and interesting people I met thanks to my military service. Without them, my life would have been so much less than it has been.
My military service continues to impact my life. Through my previous work at the college and this blog, it is still bringing some of the most wonderful people into my life. Thank you to McFly, Sandra Torres-Pintos, Semper Sarah, Graciela Tiscareño-Sato, Chad Storlie, Mark Nolte, Edward, Kathy, and Emily Mahoney, Angela Santos, Dr. John Schupp, and Lee M-K Neiper for being willing to do interviews and/or spreading the word about the blog – I am forever grateful for your support.
Lastly, I want to say thank you to all of the men and women of the Armed Forces, especially those far from home this holiday season – thank you for picking up where all these wonderful people left off. I appreciate your service and your sacrifice and I know they do, too.
© 2013, Sarah Maples. All rights reserved.