As NDBT pauses business along with many other great companies throughout the United States to observe, honor and celebrate Veterans Day, we’d like to share some thoughts from one of our own whose experiences, along with fellow NDBT professionals Lorie Swayze, Oscar Fletes, and Kelly Green, are just a few of the reasons we should be doing more than just “taking a day off.”
All veterans share a common bond, they raised their right hand and solemnly swore an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” It doesn’t matter if they served for four years or 40 years, all veterans sacrificed something to serve their country.
For me, honor, respect, and reverence began before I raised my hand and took my oath. My grandfather (SSGT Harold J. Christopher) was a veteran of World War II and a prisoner of war. He was a quiet, humble man, a proud patriot and someone I admired greatly. As a child I only knew that he had served his country, fought in a war and was my grandfather. He never really spoke about his service; he wasn’t boastful or arrogant. I remember standing side by side in front of the American flag with my grandfather, placing his right hand to his heart, quietly his eyes would swell with tears, his lip would tremble, and he became silent, alone with his thoughts.
Years later, I would gain the personal experiences required to understand some part of what might have been going through his mind. I am a gulf war veteran, I served four years in the Air Force, and I am a proud patriot of this great country. I learned many things in my time of service, and I have learned even more from those that have come before me. Every Veteran has their own story, each person with their own unique experiences and each of them with their own reasons for serving. While my service was not the same as my grandfather’s we shared our pride in this country and a desire to protect the values and freedoms that come with it. Veterans Day is the designated day to publicly remember and recognize the service of living veterans and show them your appreciation. On this day you can show them true appreciation in a variety of ways. If you find a veteran, ask them about their service, when did they serve? Where did they serve? What did they do while they were serving? What branch did they serve in? What was it like to serve? Finally, why did they choose to serve? After listening to their story, you will truly know the service you are thanking them for. It will mean a great deal to them and may provide you a greater appreciation of our Veterans and the freedoms their service ensured we can all enjoy. This year if you are fortunate enough to work for an organization that closes its doors on Veterans Day. I’d ask that you use that time to reach out to a Veteran, thank them, and if you have not previously done so, now is a great time to ask about their service.
Senior Airman Shane Harkins