Veteran’s Day from a Veteran’s Perspective

Over the past four years, I have had the privilege of serving in the United States Army, including a nine-month forward deployment to Afghanistan as a rifle platoon leader in the 173rd Airborne. Now that I am a veteran, it is more apparent to me that Veteran’s Day is a reminder of all the things we have to be proud of as Americans.

veterans day pictureAfter completing my deployment in Afghanistan, I had the opportunity to visit WWII battlefields in Holland. I happened to see a small marker in the woods identifying the remains of an American soldier who had died in combat. His actions were so heroic that he was awarded the Medal of Honor and his marker read, “Hij stierf voor ons,” which translated into English means, “He died for us.” It seemed profound that the Dutch still remember one of our soldiers and I remember feeling that if they remember him, so should I.

A month later, my unit honored the families of soldiers lost during our deployment. I was honored to meet these families, including the wife, mother and father of Specialist Theodor Glende as they remembered their husband and son. I will never forget their sorrow over losing him AND their joy as they celebrated his life that day. Even though I am back home in the US, I continue to follow friends on Facebook who returned to Afghanistan for another deployment and it helps me to remember and pray for these soldiers.

Veterans Day should remind all of us what we have to be proud of in this country. In true American fashion, we still have ordinary Americans willing to serve in extraordinary ways; and similarly, there are still American families, communities, churches and schools that proudly support them.

Happy Veterans Day!
justin atkinson 09 2014
This blog post was written by Capt. Justin Atkinson (ICS Class of 2001), currently stationed in Fort Jackson, South Carolina.