Reflecting on Recommitment
At the end of 100th Week, the Class of 2017 had our Recommitment Ceremony where we once again took the oath we had taken on R-Day, changed our shoulder boards, and received the privilege to wear civilian clothes. Since the ceremony was delayed and I had a plane to catch, I had a mini-ceremony of my own. Because of this, I ended up being the first one in my class to be promoted to 2/c, the first one to wear civvies in Chase Hall, and the first one to go on leave for the summer. You’d think I would be really excited about this but I found myself unhappy. I was disappointed that I could not stand with my class and renew the oath with them. They say that in the military, you sometimes have to sacrifice being at important events. I didn’t realize that it went both ways. The Coast Guard family really watches out for you and will try to work with you in making plans, especially when getting home to family.
Our Cadre Graduated?!
Having the first three weeks of leave meant that I wasn’t at the Academy for Commencement. The great Class of 2015 graduated in May. Graduation from an academy means so much more than graduating from any other college. Each member of the Class of 2015 not only received a diploma but also a commission as an ensign in the Coast Guard and a handshake from President Obama. It’s a pretty big deal.
Why was this graduation so important to me? The Class of 2015 is my cadre class. They were responsible for training my class. We followed them from the beginning of our experience and now we have to be the leaders that they were to us. The Class of 2015 has left my class huge shoes to fill. When we graduate, we will continue to follow them by taking their places as they will move onto their next units.
It is a reminder that my class is halfway through our Academy experience and of the great responsibility we will have beginning this summer. It poses the question, “Are we ready?”
I think we are.
The Meaning of Memorial Day
For Memorial Day weekend, I took a road trip to Kansas with my dad. There is a famous attraction in Wichita called the Keeper of the Plains. If you walk over the bridge there, you’ll find a memorial park. It was the perfect thing to run into on the day before Memorial Day.
Nowadays, so many people celebrate Memorial Day by hosting backyard barbeques or going shopping. People forget what Memorial Day is really about. It is about remembering those who gave their lives in serving our country. It is for those who made the ultimate sacrifice. There is a great poem titled “Freedom is not Free.” I challenge you to look it up. That is what Memorial Day is about.
Memorial Day is not about the people who serve today, though we may serve in honor of the true honorees. It is not a day to praise veterans and survivors but to mourn with them over their shipmates lost. It is a day to stand beside the families of those who have lost someone for the sake of our country and hear the stories that they carry on.
I stood with my dad looking at a memorial as a lady came and placed a rose on it. She started crying and we knew she had lost someone whose name was etched there. It was such a beautiful and sad moment. I didn’t know what to do. Part of me wanted to give her a hug but I knew I could never understand her loss. I decided to continue looking at the memorial, avoid eye contact, and give her space. A minute later, she came up to us and told us she had lost her brother in Afghanistan a few years ago. The memorial included the war on terrorism as an ongoing fight. It was the most powerful memorial I have ever visited.
Moments like that make it real. Moments like that remind me of why I serve. I serve to protect my country and am so proud to be part of something bigger than myself. I want to save lives and solve problems peacefully. There is no better way to do that than by serving in the Coast Guard.
When you thank me for my service, I know you’re not just thanking me. Because I am part of something so much bigger than myself, I represent the soldiers stationed all over the world and those who have lost their lives fighting. You are thanking all of those people when you say thank you to a serviceman or woman. Even though we may never meet them or have the chance to convey that message, it is a reminder that we proudly serve beside them and we honor them in our service.
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