He could have waited. After all, he did not choose for our country to go to war. He did not choose to be part of the draft. Like so many other young men of his generation, his choices were limited by the decisions that his country’s leaders had made. No matter what his dreams or ambitions were, they would have to wait, because one day his number would be called and he would be sent to fight in Vietnam. He could have waited.
But you see, that’s not my dad. Even at such a young age, he was not one to sit around and wait for things to happen to him. So instead of waiting to be drafted, he signed up to serve in the Navy. Volunteering for service meant that he would have to join the conflict sooner and serve longer than he otherwise would have. It meant placing his life in the hands of the men with whom he served and taking their lives in his hands. It meant traveling to strange and distant places to take part in a conflict that he didn’t fully understand. It meant returning home to a culture that would curse and abuse him for his willingness to go. However, it also meant that my dad had a choice in his future. For my dad, the ability to choose is invaluable and something well worth sacrificing for.
Saying thank you does not feel like enough, but it is a start. So thank you for your service. Thank you for being willing to go before you were called and stay longer than required. Thank you for serving with honor, despite the pain and sacrifice that the task demanded. Thank you for teaching me, both through your words and your actions, to choose what is right over what is easy. Thank you for showing me that when my circumstances seem to dictate a certain outcome, I have the ability to make a choice and make a way for myself.
You taught me not to let my circumstances overwhelm me.
You taught me to be proactive rather than reactive.
You taught me not to focus on things that are outside of my control.
You taught me to invest my energy into the things that I can affect.
You taught me to choose.
I love you.