This I Believe

Caitlin - Fargo, North Dakota
Entered on January 18, 2007

I believe in the American soldier.

Up until a few years ago, I was never able to fully grasp what it meant for someone to be an American soldier. I’ve always held a certain respect for them, but I never understood or gave much thought to how important they are to the American people and this sweet way of life.

Many of my immediate family members have had past military experience. My uncle was a captain in the U.S. Navy, my dad was a medic in Vietnam, and my mom was stationed as a nurse on the air force base. But seeing as I was not there to actually experience their time in the service, I guess was never able to fully appreciate what exactly it meant for them. Then, when my sister joined the Army National Guard just before the start of the War in Iraq, things began to hit closer to home. My brother followed suit a few years later as a combat medic in the National Guard, and is currently stationed over in Iraq. Through all that time, through all of my brother’s letters and all of the books and news reports, I have come to realize and appreciate more and more what exactly it means when an American hands that newly signed piece of paper over to the recruiter.

From that moment, the American soldier voluntarily chooses to be a part of something larger than his/herself. He devotes his time, his life, to learning how to defend and protect this great country. He sacrifices certainty and security, safe roads and sleep. He endures time away from his precious family and friends. He watches from afar as his babies grow up, clinging dearly to letters and pictures and the hope that he will one day be there too, safe again. He learns to live one day at a time, never sure what tomorrow is going to bring, He wholeheartedly believes in his mission and believes in nothing but success. He watches as comrades fall around him, but somehow must find the strength to keep going. He helps out the locals and provides aide to those in need without end and then shakes his head sadly day when day after day the media fails to even mention it. Yes, he gets scared and sometimes discouraged, but he knows the stakes and what could happen if he backs down. And that is more important to him. He looks around himself and reminds those back home to never take anything in our lives for granted, for we have been given a great and wonderful gift. And as we sit at home enjoying our freedoms, he is off protecting them, no matter the price, because this is what he believes in. He believes in America.

While he’s doing all that and more for all of us, I understand now that the least I can do is believe in him. Without him, we are nothing. And to him, I am forever grateful.