Thanks from a chicken
I’m afraid to fly. The thought of being so high up terrifies me so much that I do almost anything to avoid planes. Alumnus Marty Contreras also is afraid of heights, so when he joined the Army, he signed up for airborne school. His reasoning: if he’s scared of it, he’s going to make himself get over it—with a parachute.
I’m afraid of pain. If I hit my thumb with a hammer, you’d better believe I’m going to avoid all hammers for at least a year. Student Anna King knows pain. When a mortar hit her base in Iraq, it dislocated her jaw, broke her wrist and caused traumatic brain injury. She almost died from the swelling in her brain. She now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. But she’d give anything to go back and continue the fight.
When Tony Doyle’s Humvee hit an improvised explosive device in Iraq, he was flung from the vehicle and pinned under it. He lost his leg. His world changed in an instant. He came back home and rebuilt his life and now is an undergraduate student studying history. Unbelievably, he’d do it all again. Because, he says, his life now is richer than it was before.
This is courage. True courage.
What drives them? It may be honor, duty, a need to serve. But what makes them actually do the things they do and not just say they will? What is it that pushes them to move beyond fear, trauma, pain, stress, grief, and make their lives even better because of what they experienced?
They are made from a different cloth than me, and all I can do is thank them. I wish I was more like them. But because of them, we are here living comfortably and confidently. Our children, grandchildren and future generations will live with a greater sense of security because of what they’ve done. But it goes even beyond that. It’s the will, the determination to make their own lives a sacrifice to something they truly believe in that I admire the most.
Marty, Anna, Tony and all veterans and military personnel out there—you are heroes. Thank you for everything you do.