IDAHO VETERAN REFLECTS ON HIS SERVICE
Submitted by Senator Mike Crapo
This Veterans Day, I'm honored to share the words of recent veteran, Idaho Marine Reservist Staff Sergeant Luke Miller. Miller earned the Non-Commissioned Officer Association Military Vanguard Award for saving fellow Marines' lives.
"Growing up, I never thought I'd find myself looking at the world through the eyes of a veteran.' I never imagined that I would willingly enlist in the military and serve in a combat zone. Yet I joined out of high school, and there are very few things in my life of which I'm prouder.
"Because of my military experiences, I find myself today with memories of combat, memories of nearly a year spent away from my wife and family. There are events that unfold in my mind's eye every day, without fail. It's this way for every brave veteran of our country. Each of us has memories and likely some scars, some visible from wounds received at battle. Other scars are deeper, and not so visible. This is why we have Veterans Day. We remember that we owe a debt of gratitude for their service to our country and we acknowledge these scars and their sacrifice.
"As I reflect on what it means to be a veteran, I think of my fellow Marines and military personnel with whom I shared those experiences. They are like brothers to me; we are bonded forever by the events that we went through together. But it's more than simply a shared experience. The bond of military camaraderie goes deeper because we relied on each other to get through those experiences. It's impossible for two people to carry each other at the same time. What we did instead was take turns carrying each other. All veterans experienced good days and bad. On the good days you do the carrying; on the bad, it's best to be carried.
"It's both good days and bad that haunt me still. I have moments that float through my conscious thought that are accompanied by a feeling of pride. In those moments, I did something right and I am humbled that some act may have changed things for the better. Not all memories fit this category, however, for I'm also tormented by what I could have done better. If only I had done something slightly different. There are so many "if only" events that accompany any war. It's these moments, these decisions, often made in a fraction of a second, which haunt all veterans.
"The opposition to our current war in Iraq seems to be growing of late. Of course it's because of our freedom--won by veterans--that people can stand opposed. This opposition, however, saddens something deep inside of me. As an Iraq War Veteran, the things that I saw and did need to be for something. I submit to you that you cannot take at face value all the media feeds. There is so much good being done in Iraq that goes unreported, and I've seen it with my own eyes. I have stories of good that fill my heart with pride that our country, collectively, is living out one of those moments where right prevailed over an if only.'
"I hope that this Veterans Day, my fellow Veterans feel the same pride that I feel. If you wore a uniform for our country, take a moment to pause and be proud. What you did mattered and matters still. If you are not a veteran, take pride in the men and women of our Armed Services. Shake the hand of a veteran and thank them. The sacrifice was great, but the reward of living in a country such as ours is greater still."