I have two nephews serving in the United States Army. One is serving again in Iraq. The other left today to go back to Afghanistan.
From his cell phone at the Atlanta airport, Bryan posted this on Facebook:
Alright facebook fam. Headed out… See you when I see you. Always remember there are people fighting on your behalf, so that you can enjoy the freedoms you have at home… YOUR WELCOME…
“YOUR WELCOME,” he said. A typo? Misspelling? No. He knows the difference between your and you’re. My sister shared with me that it was Bryan’s way of saying that his service on your behalf is your welcome to this country and its freedoms. You’re welcome to be welcomed to a life of freedom.
Though my own military service took me away from my family as they grew up, and I didn’t get to know my nephews as much as I would have liked to, I have a couple of special moments with them. And I’m proud of them for becoming men of honor and commitment to their God, their country, and their families.
And I’m proud of my sister, Sonja, for raising her children to take a stand for what they believe.
I’m proud to be your sister, your aunt, your friend, your fellow veteran…family by birth, friend by choice, and veteran by heart.
And I dedicate this portion of what I wrote over a year ago to each of you. I love you.
The challenges faced during the years I was in the military are certainly quite different than those faced by our servicemen and women today. Though we were not in the foxholes in a war zone, it was not easy serving in a peacetime military in the 1970s and 80s. We fought our own battles by going through the changes that our country, our government, our culture, and the world were facing in those days.
I served because I believe in my heart and soul that the freedoms for which we stand were important enough for me to have sacrificed a part of myself in order to have protected those freedoms for all who enjoy those freedoms. I even did it for those who did not share my beliefs, many of them living with the residual effects of our country’s involvement in Vietnam. It did not matter to me that it was an uphill battle to make a difference in this world–as a woman, as a military member, or as a citizen.
But regardless of the challenges and conflicts faced, each of us raised a hand to take the oath of enlistment to the U.S. military, and for each reenlistment. Five times I raised my own hand and proudly stated:
“I, Coral Levang, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to do the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
I would do it again…if given the chance. Peacetime, wartime…20 days, 20 months or 20 years.
I would do it again for my siblings and their children, for my children and grandchildren, for my parents, my aunts and uncles, and for my cousins. I would do it again for my friends and neighbors, and for any and all of our citizens who enjoy the freedoms we share as a nation.
If needed, I would fight until my dying breath to defend each of you.
No matter who may stand in criticism of what those of us in uniform past or present have done or the amount of time that we may have spent doing it, I will always support and defend this country and my fellow veterans …however, whenever, and wherever I can. I salute all of you.
And from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for your service.