Veterans Day commemorates the service and sacrifice of all who have served in defense of our nation and is a tradition dating back to the armistice of World War I on November 11, 1918. Armistice Day, as it was then known, was a celebration of the end of the War to End All Wars. Unfortunately, that was not the end of large-scale conflict. After the end of World War II, in 1954, the name was changed to Veterans Day in honor of the veterans of all wars. To commemorate Veterans Day this year, we asked LMIers to submit stories about what it means to be a veteran. Read their memories and insights below.
Thank you to the men and women who have put on the uniform to serve our country.
Brian T. Grana, Lieutenant Colonel, United States Marine Corps (retired) | Sr. Consultant, Project Engineering
To me, being a veteran means paying it forward to veterans by helping them personally and professionally transition out of uniform and become more involved in leading their communities. Being a veteran also means helping veterans remain connected with our veteran tribe in every corner of America. Wearing the "Cloth of our Nation" is an honor and offers a platform for goodness long after service members don it for the last time. What one chooses to do with that honor and platform is a choice. Now that I have an adult son who is an active duty Marine, my conviction to helping fellow veterans is stronger than ever!
Desiree Peyman, Petty Officer Second Class, United States Navy | Sr. Consultant, Talent Management
Being a veteran remains about supporting and giving back to your community. It's about the stories we share, the comradery we have, and the sacrifices we have made. It is not constrained by an era or wartime. My grandfather and I were stationed on the same ship (the USS Essex) 60 years apart. He served during WWII and I served during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. We were lucky enough to share that bond and our stories. I continue to honor and support veterans as the Director of Charitable events for Rallye for Veterans, a 501(c)(3) that directly pays medical and mortgage debts for veterans in need. -AG2(AW/SW)
Paul N. Chang, Staff Noncommissioned Officer, United States Marine Corps (retired) | Project Manager
Service and true understanding of being an American citizen. Not just talking about having a right without understanding the sacrifices made by so many. Seeing that America is protected and represented by all colors, religions, and genders. And mostly, that America is made up of all cultures. Serving allowed me to see this first hand and appreciate it all.
Sinc Harris, Rear Admiral, United States Navy (retired) | Principal, Business Development
Being a veteran means that I did my part in protecting our nation's values, interests, and way of life. Being a veteran means I have had the great honor to serve with fellow patriots of every part of our nation and many from other nations. Being a veteran means that I join in the long line of men and women who have gone before.
Rick Phillips, Colonel, United States Army (retired) | Sr. Consultant, Logistics Strategy and Integration
I served in uniform for 36 years, active duty, National Guard and Army Reserve. I was a federal Civil Servant for just over 13 years and now I support U.S. Border Patrol as an LMI employee. I have personally served this Nation since I was 17 years old. Not to give away my age, but that’s 46 years and counting. I come from a long line of veterans. I have had family in the U.S. Military for just about every generation, serving in almost every conflict in which this nation has been involved. The current generation has broken that record; none have worn or likely will wear the uniform.
I personally have three combat tours and entered service just after the end of Vietnam; I am a Cold War Warrior and considered by some to be an Asymmetric War specialist. I would still be in uniform if they would allow. They won’t.
We lost a family member at the Civil War battle for Franklin, Tennessee. We had a family member drafted into the Union Cavalry, along with several of his horses (3rd Arkansas Union Cavalry). We had five family members that served in the Civil War: four Confederate, one reluctant Union Soldier. One was a Prisoner of War, one killed in action, one medically discharged, the other two survived to old age. One was in the Army of Northern Virginia.
I had two uncles in WWII and two others in Korea. A cousin in Vietnam. My father served 33 years and never once entered a combat zone. Not so with me. I was in two or three hot spots, not declared as combat, and I have one tour in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. I have hundreds of tales of my service that, if you buy me a whiskey or two, I’ll be happy to bore you with. My Soldiers, when I was serving in the Pershing II units, named me “Philbo”, a cross between Phillips and Rambo. I’m still proud of that. When I was in Iraq, I irritated the insurgents such that they put a by-name wanted poster out on me. I’m really proud of that! I started a memoir once that I shall never finish. It starts with “I have lived eight lives.”
What does all this service, by me and my family, mean to me? Simply, everything. It shaped me; it is my foundation. I have been in and around the military all my life. I recall riding in a Sherman tank when I was maybe 11 years old. I banged my head into the turret; it hurt. I remember all the paid vacations we took as we followed my father around the country from one training course to another. I was once, at the orders of the Battalion Commander, placed on unit restriction because the Russian inspection team was at the Nuclear Weapon Storage facility and he didn’t want an international incident. Yes, I had a reputation, even then. I remember finding my uncle’s certificate of appreciation for shooting down two Japanese airplanes during WWII. He never spoke of his service. I remember finding pictures of my other two uncles in Korea. They too never spoke of their experiences.
What does my service and that of my family mean to me? Everything.