Veterans Day is a day when many Americans walk up to a Veteran and say “Thank you for your service.” Some of us feel awkward and don’t know how to really respond while others eat up all the praises. Me? I just ask a real simple question: “Do you pay taxes?”
Why would any veteran ask if an appreciative civilian who shows some respect to our Veterans pays their taxes? Well, it’s quite simple. It was the tax payer who allowed us to venture off to some far off distant lands and truly embrace life.
Everyone interprets their service differently. I’m pretty realistic. I am no hero, did nothing heroic, and actually loved every second serving in uniform and looked at it as a privilege. Every year I think about Veterans Day several days prior to the actual holiday. I wonder how awkward I will feel, how I will respond to those who know I once served, and I cringe with these thoughts.
This year, I figured it was best to just write a bit of a recap on how I interpret my past service.
- Thanks to the tax payer, I was a part of the greatest team ever known to mankind. The United States military is bar none, the best modern war machine in existence when allowed to do our actual job.
- I was a part of a fraternity no college fraternity could ever compete against. Name it: Athletics, picking up hot chicks, fighting, drinking, etc. During my time in service, I was a man whore like many of my brothers-in-arms and we would drink well into the night watching the sun rise and go off to morning PT merely to sweat out the booze and start all over again.
- I traveled to well over 100 plus different countries. I embraced cultures and societies I would never have the opportunity to embrace were it not for my time in uniform. And yup, during those travels, go back to point #2—it was epic times!
- Life wasn’t all just one big party and shagging hot chicks. Sure, there were the “tough” times. Going into different combat zones always takes its toll however even then, some of the best times in my life existed. War is one funny thing….it makes you do stuff you would normally never do, speak in ways you would never speak, etc. War brings out the worst and best in people. Thinking about it, I wish everyone could experience war just once in their lifetime—for me, it was one of life’s greatest lessons in understanding who I really am.
- Lastly, my time in uniform brought about an education no Ivy League could ever provide. I was taught either actively or passively, so many skills I cannot even write them down simply because there are just way too many to list. But I know what I was taught and again, I thank the tax payer for allowing me to garner such education and wisdom.
I took this past Veterans Day off from social media and tried to avoid people as much as possible (minus my speaking engagement for a local elementary school). It’s not that I want to remove myself from society on this day but rather, I really just feel awkward hearing people thank me for my service when in fact I really need to thank you the tax payer. It was, after all, your hard earned money that allowed me so many opportunities I will never be capable in repaying.
So for all you tax payers out there, this Veteran thanks YOU!
This article first appeared in The Havok Journal on 17 November 2015.