To some, Veterans Day is just another day or for others it serves as the start of a long weekend.
I served eight years in the United States Coast Guard as a Boatswains Mate. My primary roles were law enforcement, search and rescue and navigation. I am damn proud to be a veteran and to have served this country, but in the company of other veterans I don’t speak up much. I served during the War on Terror, but never went overseas. My biggest accomplishment was volunteering to go down right after Hurricane Katrina for urban search and rescue and recovery ops. When I see Vietnam vets or WWII heroes, I shrink in their presence as I think about what they saw and went up against.
Two weeks ago, my little neighbor asked if she could take a photo with me in uniform for her class. She beautifully sang the Coast Guard Marching Song she learned in choir and was going to perform during a Veterans Day concert.
Growing up I remember doing interviews with my grandpa who was a sniper in WWII. I grew close with a local legend who served heroically and then proudly served his community as a businessman and longest serving American Legion Commander, until my Dad took that position even longer. Now, I’m “the veteran” I guess. The one that the neighbors come to interview and that’s hard to swallow.
I was 17 years old when I signed the documents at my dinner table surrounded by my mom, dad and recruiter. I knew I wanted to follow in my dad’s (brother's, grandpa's and uncle's) footsteps. I loved hearing stories, going to the Cleveland Air Show everywhere or being part of a small team that raised and lowered the American flag every day at school. September 11, 2001 solidified in my heart that upon graduation I would enlist. I had my reasons at 17 years old.
It wasn't until this picture was taken, and I saw how tightly my son held on to me that I realized, THIS IS WHY I SERVED.
So that one day my son (and soon our daughter) can grow up in an America, that despite its faults, provides freedom of speech and freedom to seek change. An America that in my heart of hearts stands to serve as a beacon of hope for so many around the world.
Although, I’ve traded in my boots for dress shoes and gun belt for a backpack full to snacks and wipes, I continue to fight that fight for them, but in a different way. I work as a servant leader serving the pleasure of my community. I’m positioned to help ensure everyone is heard and progress is made. I choose to step foot on the daily battlefield of helping a toddler grow into a man of high character and serve deep in the trenches of temper tantrums just to see him evolve.
I didn’t know it that night at my dinner table, but I chose to serve so that my future self could raise a family in a country that allows opportunity in some way or another for all. Where I could raise my children who our family chooses and that is worth fighting for.
Happy Veterans Day, and may we never forget that there are always men and women somewhere, home and abroad, away from their family and friends serving valiantly for you, too.
-Matt Lofy, The Dadass
CBUS Dads is a community of central Ohio area dads balancing an active lifestyle with being an involved parent. A Saturday for us may involve enjoying morning t-ball, lunch at a new local spot and an evening at a summer festival with our families. We may live downtown, in the suburbs or somewhere between, but our common thread is that we continue to experience the community we love - now as parents.