By Greg Mowat – Principal/Owner – GTM Transformations LLC (SDVOB)
I have always been aware of Veterans Day in early November – As a youngster visiting my maternal Grandparents before Thanksgiving I remember my Grandma helping the American Legion Post 154 (Ferndale, WA) Lady’s Auxiliary prepare poppies to be distributed in memory of those who fought in WWI (my grandfather was a veteran of the “Big War”). My Father is a veteran of WWII serving in the European theater from D Day to the occupation of Germany – Returning home shortly before the armistice with Japan, concerned as he did not have enough “points” to prevent possible re-deployment to the Pacific. The surrender in the Pacific ended his brief, though eventful, military career.
He had hoped that WWII would be the end of our Family’s contribution to military service, making his “war stories” the last to be shared around the table after large holiday dinners. He had friends who served in Korea, some of whom did not return much to his sadness. I was the oldest child in the immediate family and brother to two sisters; Dad opined that he was glad that I would be spared his experience on the battle field and the loss of those that one grows close to because of shared experience during training and warfare. Such would not be the case – I graduated from High School in the summer of 1967, attended community college through December of that year, relinquished a 2s deferment in January of 1968 and was in the United States Army on August 19th, 1968. I joined via enlistment, my longest duty station was Phu Loi, South Vietnam – August of 1969 to September of 1971 – with the 128th Assault Helicopter Co.
I am fond of telling friends and acquaintances that my military service was short, but eventful – I came away with a refined understanding of friendship, an experienced grasp of pragmatic leadership (I spent my last year in Vietnam as the NCOIC of the 128th’s avionics shop), and a respect for public/national service as the core of our national community. Many would have you believe that military service is about action, honor, valor, sacrifice, and heroism – All of that is true at a certain level and needs to be appreciated; I believe that there is a deeper, more profound level at which military service is about love, fulfillment, learning, growing and at the core, about cooperation, collaboration, and securing our shared community of friends, family, and those we love.
I have no problem with the Veteran Day sales, advertising with the flag in the background (or foreground as the case may be), and much of the general hype which accompanies the holiday activities in our commercial culture – It is all part of what I and the previous veterans, current veterans, and future veterans commit to protect as we accept the oath to the constitution upon entering the service. For the same reason, I am reasonably neutral regarding the back and forth around the flag and national anthem – I served to ensure that the freedom to honor same of not would be preserved. To curb any of this, no matter how we may individually feel, fly’s in the face of our service and the sacrifice of our comrades. Finally, I appreciate being recognized for my service, having said that, I am most honored by a rewarding career, secure community, and safe family – I matured, learned, developed, and blossomed in the U.S. Army: receiving decent work and career fulfillment is the best Thanks!
Our current 21st century veterans are amongst the best trained, best educated, highest achieving ever. I would be most thankful to my fellow Transportation Club of Tacoma colleagues for every effort that they are able to pursue to reach out to these superb women and men who have served our nation and provide opportunities for these veterans to transition successfully to civilian careers, joining the national community that their service ensured. I would further argue that all of us need to “pay forward” to these individuals to ensure that future generations of young women and men can feel secure in the knowledge that military service is a life-enhancing activity that is recognized a “plus” for future civilian career success. Anything less than that would be a tragedy for these future veterans and for our collective future.
In closing –Mark Twain said, “I am glad I did it, partly because it was well worth it, and chiefly because I shall never have to do it again.” There is certainly much of this sentiment in any reflection on military service; as the Master Sargent who recruited me into the U.S. Army put it “The army is a situation of mind over matter, they don’t mind, and you don’t matter” – I shall carry my military service close to my heart, and extend the empathy it bestowed on me to my fellow veterans and fellow citizens. I believe that all of us who have had the experience are better for the experience and need to connect that experience and its lessons to our daily life. Many Thanks to the Club for inviting my comments!
Greg Mowat – Principal/Owner – GTM Transformations LLC (SDVOB)