November 8, 2019
This long weekend celebrates Veterans Day. The annual Veterans parade is scheduled for 11:00 AM tomorrow along the City’s typical downtown route: from Central Park down Ash Street to 2nd Street to Centre Street and back to Central Park. Some additional activities celebrating veterans are also scheduled for downtown on Monday, the officially designated Veterans Day.
In a career as a somewhat inconsequential local government bureaucrat, my professional accomplishments are narrowly measured and specifically defined: it is rarely worth noting the paving of a road, the building of a park, or the negotiation of a contract. That is my profession (and I truly love the people with whom I work and the community in which I serve).
The accomplishment of which I am most proud, however, is my short service as an Army officer. After being introduced to the military following my freshman year at college, I was intrigued to continue the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) path, but due to school logistics, I was not able to continue. After graduating college and struggling with career direction, I opted to return to the ROTC program when I began my graduate studies. Shortly before graduating with my master’s degree, I was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army.
As a newly-commissioned infantry officer, I was “invited” to relocate to Ft. Benning, Georgia, earlier than expected due to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August, 1990. The full brunt of my service hit home while I was enjoying an evening meal at home when the first attacks of what was known as Desert Storm began. Although slated for duty in the Middle East as part of that combat effort, the short duration of that conflict negated the need for additional infantry personnel, so I was instead diverted to the 3rd Infantry Division and stationed in Schweinfurt, Germany.
My tour in Germany was mostly uneventful: the Cold War had ended and the scourge of terrorism was still about a decade away. After serving as a platoon leader for two years, I transitioned to a brigade staff position, serving as an intelligence officer. The most notable challenges as an intelligence officer were my responsibilities for compliance with arms control treaties and monitoring the deteriorating situation in what was then known as Yugoslavia. Since that region of Europe was within our area of responsibility, I was required to provide daily briefings to senior commanders on Serbian militia activities in Bosnia and Croatia.
I left the service in 1994 and subsequently embarked on my career as a local government manager. Many of the lessons and skills that I learned and acquired while in the military serve me well to this day. Those lessons and skills are both personal and professional.
I often have nostalgic discussions about our military service with Airport Director Mr. Nathan Coyle (an Air Force veteran). We served in different roles in different theaters in different times, but we are United States veterans. What we arguably miss the most is the unswerving and unerring sense of purpose of the military: to protect, and, if necessary, fight and win. The civilian world has so many competing agendas: do we want a park or do we want parking, do we want trees or houses, do we want Republican or Democrat? The military and those who serve have one common mission.
What I found most impressive about the people who served was the variety of people: it truly is a cross-section of our great nation. People from all walks of life and every corner of the country (and beyond) who were willing to commit to preserving and protecting, at significant sacrifice, this wonderful country and people. I’d raise my right-hand again without hesitation to do it again.
Thank you to my fellow veterans for your great service.