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Veterans Day Remembered

Sunday is just another drop in the bucket

by Published: Nov 7, 2012

Going to Applebee’s to receive a free entrée on Veterans Day is a perk, but this day is not reserved for my applause.

Originally coined as Armistice Day by President Woodrow Wilson on Nov. 11, 1918, to com­mem­o­rate the end of World War I, it aimed to show grat­i­tude to those who died in the conflict.

President Wilson said, “…the reflec­tions of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the hero­ism of those who died in the country’s service…”

I feel quite uncom­fort­able when friends and fam­ily mem­bers thank me for my ser­vice over­seas. I am in good health phys­i­cally and men­tally while some vet­er­ans can’t say the same.

Veterans Day is a pub­lic hol­i­day for vet­er­ans, includ­ing myself, to take a sec­ond to think about the lives that have been lost on a daily basis.

One of my most promi­nent mem­o­ries revolves around the last days of my third deploy­ment over­seas to south­ern Afghanistan in 2008. We had already start­ing pack­ing up the gear in prepa­ra­tion of our return home when an impro­vised explo­sive devise det­o­nated, killing San Sim, Adrian Robles and Deon Taylor dur­ing a rou­tine patrol.

Usually after a patrol, peo­ple are excited to get some food, play cards or start some ridicu­lous con­test which leads to some­thing idi­otic but com­i­cal in the same regards.

This time, we all took a seat at the foot of our cots, seem­ingly glanc­ing down at the dirt under our feet, try­ing to ratio­nal­ize the event that just occurred. My thoughts were cen­tered on the fam­i­lies of these men who were soon to have vis­i­tors in full dress uni­form to deliver the bad news.

Sim was born in the Philippines as his fam­ily fled Cambodia, his coun­try of eth­nic ori­gin, after geno­cide broke out in the mid 1970s. He was back­dated cit­i­zen­ship to the date of his death.

He was a light-hearted young man whose biggest moti­va­tor was to re-unite with his wife and son, who cel­e­brated his first birth­day days before his father’s death.

Our unit, 2nd Battalion 7th Marines located out of 29 Palms, California, received unwanted noto­ri­ety from the press after the unit sus­tained roughly 150 casu­al­ties and had 20 mem­bers killed dur­ing the seven month deploy­ment to the Farah and Helmond Provinces. The unit was known as hav­ing the most casu­al­ties of any Marine Corps unit in 2008.

In many regards, this event has been the defin­ing moment of my life to this point. Veterans Day serves as a bench­mark to assess my life since that event over four years ago.

Many Americans may have “war fatigue” from being bom­barded with death on a reg­u­lar basis. For some of you, we have been in this mil­i­tary con­flict for over half of your life, and you may have tuned out years ago.

There are over 450 self-identified vet­er­ans here at Ferris, accord­ing to Adam Forbes, the Ferris Veteran Program Specialist. Each one is observ­ing this day in a dif­fer­ent way; I hope you can hold these peo­ple and their fam­i­lies in your thoughts on Sunday.