I don’t know about how other veterans feel, but I always feel a bit awkward come Veterans’ Day. I wasn’t a Marine who went in kicking down doors in Fallujah nor did I lay down gunfire to protect my fellow Marines. I was tucked “safely” away from the front lines on a base (for both deployments). More often than not, I feel like a person impersonating a veteran than someone who served her country. My combat deployments consisted of serving in a support role, which while vital to our forward operating personnel, feels like I wasn’t doing a whole hell of a lot to help our cause.
That’s not to say I am not proud of what I’ve done, because I completely am. It was an honor to serve as a Marine and I love the fact that what I did helped people. It’s just not the stuff that ends up in the paper and not what you think of when you think of a combat deployment. The highest praise directed to my team was that our efforts helped prevent a unit from getting ambushed.
Sometimes I worry about the fact that there are stories that will die over time. It saddens me when you hear about more and more of our past war veterans’ numbers dwindling as they reach old age and pass away. There are those few whose stories gain worldwide recognition and that’s great, but there is so much that remains unknown about these wars because the knowledge dies with each veteran when he or she passes away.
I have mentioned to my boss that it is my desire that I can write a book about being a Marine. I am not a hero nor am I trying to portray that I am. It would be a great disservice to the Marines who have seen combat and been incredibly heroic in the face of adversity (like one of the Marine veterans I work with who has earned the Navy Cross). However, I would love to leave behind a record of what today’s Marine Corps has been like for me. I know the Corps will continue to evolve and the Marines 20 years from now will have an entirely different experience depending on world events, their personal lives, and policies and regulations.
I think it’s incredibly important to capture some of those little moments that we don’t think of when we think of what’s important but certainly it’s an undertaking that will take a significant amount of time. I have been writing about life (in general) for years but I also have an incredible collection of notes from the moment I started thinking about the Marine Corps. I don’t want this potential book to be solely about my deployments and really, I want the process of becoming a Marine and how this (short-lived) career choices has completely changed my life. I think it’s a more appropriate book to write about today’s Marine Corps and one that I would enjoy wholeheartedly.
I would like to get started on this project before the year is over. Right now, my notes are tucked away in our storage unit, so moving out is certainly essential for progress to begin. I also need permission from some friends and family members regarding notes and letters I want to include.
There is a small collection of notes that specifically won’t be part of the project as I shredded them, which in hindsight was probably a really bad decision on the book side of things. It would have given a different perspective on my first deployment but as they were old love letters, I got rid of them because I didn’t find it appropriate to keep them after I married.
My hope is that within a year, I can complete this goal. It will probably be the only New Year’s resolution I make for myself so I’ll keep you updated on the progress!