Being a Veteran on Veteran’s Day is like having another birthday. Dozens of people will post messages on Facebook, a host of dining establishments will give away free food, and there are even a couple places that give away free haircuts (c’mon, who doesn’t love a free haircut!).
All of that is wonderful. It is humbling. It is incredibly generous.
But it isn’t really what I want, it isn’t why I signed up to defend our country, and honestly – I would trade all of it in if every person I knew decided to fight for the same thing that I did when I enlisted in the Army Reserves in the first place: Peace.
The best way you can thank me for my service to this country is to do everything in your power to create peace.
You know, it is a funny conundrum that in the military we “fight for peace,” but in my time in service to our country that’s what most of us believed. We believed that if we were there the chance for peace would increase.
That view might be idealistic, or even unrealistic, but if it’s okay with all of you I’m going to do my best to hold on to it.
I’m going to try and bring peace to the world around me, and I’ll do that through relationships. I’ll do that through dialogue, and I’ll do that by standing up for those that are getting bullied.
One of the things that I’ve realized in my time in the Army is that there is a difference between peace and oppression. Both can result in the fighting to cease, but only one respects the lives of the parties involved.
In order to have real peace, we must have kindness. Kindness that says every person matters, kindness that says even if we disagree, your opinion has value. Somewhere along the way I think some of us have lost sight of what it means to be kind to one another. Somewhere along the way we’ve decided it’s okay to not have manners, to speak without listening, or to insult someone who we don’t even know. If I’m honest, this is the stuff that breaks my heart.
I don’t know what the future holds for our country. I don’t know how the divided nature of our country will heal. I know that as a Veteran, I desperately desire peace. I know that the best way to start all of that is to be kind, and if each of us just decided that we were going to be kind – I think we might be able to do something pretty special. Real peace is embodied in kindness.
So, if you really want to thank me for being a Veteran, do me a favor; be a peacemaker.