This Veteran’s Day I’m reminded of so much. My father, Major General Bob Patterson, served for 33 years, flew in combat in Vietnam and was the first commander of the Air Force Special Operations Command. The guys doing the sneaky stuff, quietly and professionally. Yeah, he started that. Amazing and inspirational. And lethal.
I served for 20 years with so many great people. 69 countries and hundreds of stories told and untold. Combat, being stupid for no reason, work hard play hard, 30 hour days, coffee and beer. In the end, service, always service. Always wearing an American flag on my shoulder and in my heart. The highlight of my life. Until marriage with Nichole LaGrow Patterson and parenting our amazing children.
Military service is a privilege and, at the same time, inexplicable. It’s an honor. The bond, the brotherhood, the tempting of fate when others are trying to kill you. In the end, it’s all about service. For a greater calling. Service before self. And it’s incredibly gratifying if you’re an American. It’s compelling and real.
I sometimes wonder what’s happened to our nation. The disconnect with our military and our citizens. During World War Two, 12% of our nation’s population were in the military. Today? Less than 1% of our citizens are either in, or associated with, our men and women in uniform.
Today, please honor our veterans. Those who have served and those who are serving. It doesn’t pay well and it frequently takes you thousands of miles away from your loved ones. Drop your political angst and say thanks to a vet.
It means the world.