Saluting all who serve

Saluting all who serve

Saluting all who serve

By E. Adam Porter, Editor

 

The dogs started barking as he came up the walk. They are always excited to see him, as are his not-so-little-anymore brothers, who got to the door just seconds after the Golden Retrievers. My eldest son, Christian, was home for a visit. 

A year removed from finishing his six-year hitch in the United States Air Force, Chris had something on his mind to share with mom and dad. After a few compulsory minutes wrestling with his brothers, he sat down at the dinner table. I offered him a beer. 

So, I’m thinking about re-enlisting, he said. No preamble, just right into it. That’s Chris. Especially when he’s pretty close to a decision about something. Into the Army this time… he said. They have the job I want, and they’ll let me keep my rank. This was offered as tentative information, but I could tell his mind was, mostly, made up. More than mostly, it turned out. 

A few weeks later, I dropped Chris off at the recruiting office. He was scheduled to fly out for Basic Training early the next day. The first of many early days in his imminent future. And, now, we wait. It will be at least five weeks before we will hear from him. He’ll miss Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then New Year’s. He graduates One Station Unit Training (OSUT) on Valentine’s Day. Where to next? Only the Army knows. 

As I sit here, recalling that dinner table revelation, my mind drifts back about twelve years, to the day a 14-year-old kid sat down across from me at a different dinner table in a different house with something similar on his mind. Dad, I think I might want to go into the military. He was tentative then, just feeling out the idea. At 14, four years until graduation seems like an eternity. I told him I would be proud of him, no matter what he chose, and that his mother and I loved him, and wanted him to do what was right for him. Do some research, we said. Talk with family members and friends who served. Take what the recruiters tell you with a grain of salt

As I write this, Chris has just begun his first day of OSUT, along with thousands of other recruit trainees. Unlike most of them, he enters training as a sergeant and a seasoned veteran. Which, I’m sure, the Army DIs will make sure he remembers. It’s their job to prepare these brave young men and women to join the approximately 1.4 million Americans serving in the United States Armed Forces. 

In addition to those currently serving in either active duty or the reserves, there are, depending on your source and the year, between 18 and 22 million military veterans in the U.S. population. Nearly half of these are over 65 years of age. Many volunteered, others were drafted. What every one of them has in common is that, when their country called, they raised their hand. 

On November 11, we come together as a nation to honor their commitment and their sacrifice. A service is planned in SCC at Community Hall. Many others will be held throughout the Tampa Bay area, across the country, and around the world. Like as not, my son will spend the day rucking through the woods with his platoon. 

Tens of thousands of deployed Americans will spend the day set aside to honor them aboard ships with no land in sight, or in tents far from home, or on dusty roads somewhere in the desert or in the mountains of some global hotspot. Others will spend the day in tanks stationed along the DMZ in Korea, or in administrative buildings in Kuwait, England, or Germany. Some will be on training missions in undisclosed areas or piloting aircraft to enforce no-fly zones. They live and work and play on bases set behind tall fences, a world removed from civilian life; or they live next door, sharing the same roads, shopping at the same supermarkets, and sending their kids to the same schools as you and me. 

Over the past decade or so, it’s become cliché to “Thank a Veteran,” almost as reflexive as saying, “Happy Holidays.” While the impulse is good, we should be careful not to allow the well-wishes to become mundane. Honoring veterans, no matter when, where, or why they served, is the duty of every American. Whether or not we agree with the reasons or the wars, all of us who live in the Land of the Free should appreciate everyone who swore to “support and defend the Constitution, and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same…”

It’s the least we can do for those who put the most on the line. 

NOTE: Statistics taken from Pew Research, Department of Defense, the Department of Veteran Affairs, and the US Census.

Photo Credit: Military TImes (David H. Lipp/Air National Guard)

 

 

SEPTEMBER 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

SEPTEMBER 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Tour Ybor City’s last cigar factory, sing with the bluebirds of happiness, save the date for FallFest, commemorate 60 years of SCC with the History Society, tip a glass at Alafia Brewing Company, hit the beach with some rescued...

Men’s Club Extends an Important Lifeline

Men’s Club Extends an Important Lifeline

Men’s Club Extends an Important LifelineBy Bob Sanchez When Joan Gross crashed her golf cart into trash barrels at 10 p.m., that was the last straw for her daughter Ellen, who moved in with her mom, who is 86 now and has dementia, heart...

Jan Ring Quilter Extraordinaire

Jan Ring Quilter Extraordinaire

Jan Ring Quilter ExtraordinaireBy Paula Lickfeldt Jan Ring has been sewing since she was a youngster in 4H. She began quilting when she moved to Florida in 1984. Since that time, Jan has made many quilts and quite a few of them have taken...

A Labor of Love

A Labor of Love

A Labor of LoveBy Kai Rambow The tiny fawn vacuumed its bottle in three gulps. It was very hungry and had only been rescued a few hours earlier.  Fortunately, it was now at Owl’s Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife. Owl’s Nest is the largest...

Nan Ryan Showcases Her Quilting Talent

Nan Ryan Showcases Her Quilting Talent

Nan Ryan Showcases Her Quilting TalentBy Paula Lickfeldt Nan Ryan moved to Columbia SC in 2006.  One of her friends was a quilter, and she encouraged Nan to start quilting. Nan's first project was an Iris that she finally finished after she...

First Time Entrant Wins Best of Show

First Time Entrant Wins Best of Show

First Time Entrant Wins Best of ShowBy Kai Rambow “I hadn’t expected to do well,” shared Bradd Robinson. Robinson joined the Stained Glass club only two years ago, and this was his first competition. Robinson walked away with three ribbons...