11/11 is for Veterans, Not “Singles”

American Flag

Happy Veterans Day to all who served and are currently serving!  My allergies have been horrific today, or I would have posted a lot earlier.

Some countries celebrate Armistice Day, while here in the U.S., today is Veterans Day.  So anyway, apparently there is a “thing” called “Singles Day.”  I had never heard of this until we started blogging, and would get special offers sent to use from our affiliates.  Each year, it seems the number of retailers offering “Singles Day” specials has grown- this year there has been a barrage of offers in my inbox for “Singles Day.”  I don’t even know what that is, what it’s about- no clue.

If this phenomenon that is known as “Singles Day” grows into a big “thing” in the U.S., then I may pay a bit more attention to it.  I do appreciate when our affiliates offer great deals to our readers, I think it’s awesome.  It benefits both consumers and the retailers, so it’s great for the economy.  But, if I do post about “Singles Day,” it won’t be on the 11th.

Sorry, retailers, 11/11 will always be Veterans Day to me.  The special date of 11 November is reserved for honoring those who signed on that dotted line, basically a “blank check” payable to the United States government and citizens for an amount up to, and including their lives.

I grew up in a small town in the heart of Iowa, where our veterans were very dear to all of us.  (See this post.)  Our officials were veterans, coaches were veterans, teachers were veterans- veterans were everywhere.  The school always held Veterans Day programs, and local churches always honored veterans during their services.

My dad served in the Army National Guard, and I have grandfathers, uncles and cousins who served, and a good friend from high school, as well- some are even still serving today.  Many of my parents’ friends had served in Korea and Vietnam.

I never gave much consideration to serving myself, as I planned on going to college right out of high school.  But, these brave people were always near and dear to me, and their service was much appreciated.  My first stint in college was as an art and design major at Iowa State University.  I loved Ames, loved being a Cyclone, and loved art.

But, I realized I wasn’t really learning anything new.  For example, I learned the names of techniques- but they were techniques that I had already been using- I just didn’t know they were a “thing.”  As a result, I started blowing off classes, and not really caring as much.  Then, my friend and sorority sister, Alison, left school to join the Air National Guard.

A few more months of classes, and I still wasn’t learning anything.  I suddenly found myself in the recruiter’s office at the mall, announcing, “I want to be in the Air Force.”  This was quite an involved process, as I had a couple legal issues to take care of (sneaking into bars underage to see bands…lol), which resulted in the need for  a waiver- but no big deal, they were just tickets, not felonies or anything.  I also had to go to MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Service) to get a physical, ASVAB scores had to be verified, etc.

Finally, I got the call from my recruiter that I met the requirements to enlist in the United States Air Force, in the career field of my choice- the medical field.  Twelve days later, in the midst of Desert Storm, after more processing at MEPS, I was in San Antonio, Texas, at Lackland Air Force Base, meeting my Basic Military Training instructor, TSgt. Haberkorn.  At that moment, my life was forever changed.

Me, as an Airman Basic, in the U.S. Air Force

Me, as an Airman Basic, in the U.S. Air Force

Although boot camp really sucked, I wouldn’t want to do it again, and Haberkorn put us through Hell, the change in my life was for the better.  My mom told me I’d be home the first week, but my dad told me that if he could do it, I could do it.  He was right, as were the others who encouraged me.  If I could make it through that, I knew could make it through anything.

There were so many experiences I had that helped shape who I am today.  There were bonds that we forged in the early nineties, that are still there today, and always will be.  I haven’t seen Alison since college, I haven’t seen my friend Nicole since tech school, nor Haberkorn.  Yet, I’m still in contact with all of them today, thanks to the wonders of social media.  Yes, even the dreadful smokey-hat-wearing Haberkorn- who’s actually an amazing, awesome, fun person!

While I was in a medical operations squadron and didn’t serve in combat, nor did I serve as long as many others, the time I did serve gave me an even greater appreciation for our veterans.  If the training I went through sucked, I now had an even more profound respect for those who were in combat zones- risking life and limb.

I will always be grateful for everything I learned, and for all the experiences I’ve had- especially to the MTIs who, in a matter of months, turned sloppy civilians into responsible, disciplined airmen (soldiers, seamen, marines), prepared to defend our country.  (Haberkorn, you played a major role in changing my life- many, many thanks!)

Later on, as a deputy coroner, working cases where veterans died had even more meaning.  It seemed so senseless that someone would serve three combat tours, then on the way back from helping hurricane victims, get hit by an 18-wheeler, an hour from home.  I still remember his name today.

One of those families from back home has many veterans- one of them died in an ATV accident, after serving multiple combat tours.  Then there are the cases of PTSD, homelessness, recurring health problems as a result of service.  The list goes on and on.

Active duty and military veterans helping out in the aftermath of the Vegas shooting- this really “hit home” with me, as I was stationed at Nellis AFB.  Elderly people at the store, taking what seems like forever to figure out how the credit card machine works, many of them are veterans.  Taking time to remember what these people have been through puts a whole other perspective on life.

Veterans will always have a place in my heart, and I’ll always be grateful for their sacrifices.  While I think our veterans deserve to remembered and respected every day of the year, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that we dedicate one day a year to honoring their service.  So, yes, 11 November will always be for veterans.

To all who served, or are currently serving… THANK YOU!!