Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veteran's Day, From a Veteran

Both my husband and I are veterans.  

I spent four years in the US Air Force right out of high school, and my husband retired from the Air Force after 26 years of service.  I'm phenomenally proud of him, and was bursting with love and pride when I got to marry him in his mess dress uniform.

The mess dress uniform is the military equivalent of a tuxedo.  I have one, too, but it has a floor-length skirt and short jacket.  

I didn't enter the Air Force for the right reasons -- I actually joined because, although all my life I'd heard, "make good grades, get a scholarship", when I DID get good grades and DID get a scholarship, it wasn't enough, and there was no money to add to it.  In a fit of teenage anger, I went with my then-boyfriend to his recruiter and took the ASVAB test. I pretty much aced it, which meant with any luck at all I'd have my pick of jobs.  

I chose Linguist because I'd taken Spanish, French, and Latin in school.  "When do you want to go?" they asked me.  

Knowing Basic Training was in Texas, I said, "When it's not hot!", so I got a ticket to leave on November 2nd, 1987.

Colonel Languit and I in mess dress for a Dining In -- a type of Air Force function/party.

After Basic Training, I went to Monterey, CA, to learn Korean -- eight hours a day, five days a week, for one year.  I very nearly flunked the whole shebang until I finally learned to READ the language.  I quickly realized I am a visual learner and just hearing things, especially a non-Roman language spoken by native speakers, was going to kick my tail.  But I pulled it together (the fear of "washing out" and being at the whim of the Air Force to decide what THEY wanted my job to be is a very potent attitude adjuster!) and went on to learn the technical aspect of the job in San Angelo, TX.

Egads but I hated Texas.  Loved classes, hated Texas.  To this day, nothing good for me has ever come from Texas.


Six months later, on to Korea, where I spent the remainder of my four years.  I absolutely loved Korea.  Desert Storm broke out while I was there, which made our job ... interesting.  I was promoted early and then was in the very last rotation of Buck Sergeants in the Air Force before they ceased the rank.  No increase in pay grade (how nice!) but we were now considered Non-Commissioned Officers and could be supervisors.


There were a lot of reasons I loved the Air Force, even though I wasn't prepared to love it.  I met the best friends ever.  I met my husband (although I didn't know it at the time).  I got to travel in a country I never would have gone to before, and I experienced things that will stay in my memory forever.  The work my co-workers and I did was really important and I was proud to be involved.  I didn't mind being away from home, and actually was homesick for Korea when I left.  

I was lucky.  I had a good experience.  Others haven't been so lucky.  My husband has been to Bosnia and the Desert.  He's flown Special Ops and I have no idea where he flew for that.  My best friend from college is an Air Battle Management Officer and had to leave her babies to go to the desert.  And many of my blogger friends have had people they love go fight.


No matter what your politics, try to remember that there are real people in those uniforms. Some are there because they want to be.  Some are there because they had no other life options.  Some are there because it's what their family has always done.  But everyone is scared when it comes to the battlefield.

So next time you see a man or woman in uniform, please thank them.  Shake their hand.  Buy them a cup of coffee.  Their job is a tough one, a complicated one, and often, a thankless one.

I salute you all.


Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and writes the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.


32 comments:

Cynthia said...

Thank you (& your husband) for your years of service!!
(You brought a tear to my eye)

one-eared pig said...

Well put. Thank you for sharing so much with us, and thank you for your service!

Francy said...

thanks to u and all others that have and still serve our country proudly. we lost more of our family than came home. but that is where they wanted to be.

Love that wedding picture.

Happy Veteran's Day.

Tari of ClayButtons.com said...

Thank you Lori. I am married to my second marine.
Thank you for serving.

Melissa Meman said...

Great post Lori :)

byLGD Glass Jewelry said...

What a beautiful thing you and your husband have done for our country. Thank you so much!

laurie

EB Bead and Metal Works said...

Thank you for serving Lori. That is cool you were at DLI - I was there from 1992-1993 for Russian. I know what you mean about getting your butt kicked on learning another language. I agree with you Texas is not my favorite place. I was stationed there for five years, though it was better than Fort Riley, KS.
Thanks again for your Air Force service! And thank your husband too!

Regina said...

I salute you, your husband, mine too... and all the brave men and women and their familes you gave and continue to give so much. Thank you and God bless you. I hope you had a wonderful day. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

Jane Perala said...

Very well said Lori - thank you!

Amy Allworth said...

Beautiful post, Lori! I salute you and all our veterans!!!

Libby Leuchtman said...

Thank you for your service to our country Lori.
I think we civilians have no idea the sacrifice our Vet's have made to keep us free and safe.

rosebud101 said...

Lori, Thank you and your husband for your selfless service to our country!

SummersStudio said...

Thank you Lori and your husband for your service. I am the grand daughter, daughter, and mother of vets. My son serves in Afghanistan right now and no matter what my politcal views might be, I honour all of you who have served our country. You all rock!

kelleysbeads said...

You both have my heartfelt thanks for serving our country and protecting our freedoms!

Cindy said...

Well said, Lori! I am so proud of you...and just look at you in your AF uniform! :-) What a great post. I'm toasting you, and everyone in uniform past and present today!

Janet said...

God Bless the people who serve and fight for the freedoms for so many! You really learned so much and what a full journey! Lori you were a beautiful bride!

Judy said...

Great post Lori! I love your wedding picture...just beautiful.
Thank you both for your years of service.

miramecreations said...

Thank you for serving...and fighting for our freedom, Lori. What a sacrifice...so honored! Thank your hubby as well! God Bless you always! 8-)

steufel said...

Thxs for sharing your insights. The army in Germany is - at least for now - different from your forces. Here every boy has to serve for at least 6 months when he finished school. That's part of the "citizines in uniform"-policy. But they want to change that now. Not sure if that is right.

Nancy said...

Thank you so much for serving, you and your husband. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to the many who have stepped up (for whatever reason) to serve our country.

Thank you.

Val said...

Thank you for sharing your story with us. I am filled with admiration for you, your husband and all the brave men and women who so willingly serve their country.

Barbara Bechtel said...

I love seeing little tours through some of my favorite jewelry blog's military service! It is so much fun!

Thank you for your service, Lori!

I LOVE color! said...

Thanks For serving Those are wonderful aphotos and a great blog. Be Blessed

SandysColoringBoc.blogspot.com

TesoriTrovati said...

That was such a nicely written post, Lori. And I love that you remind us that there are people inside that uniform. People with lives and loves and joy and sorrow. People like me. Thank you, Lori and your husband for all that you have done in service to the country. I salute you.
Enjoy the day!
Erin

My Life Under the Bus said...

God Bless all our troops! My best friends son (22) is currently stationed in Korea and is absolutely desolate ( it probably doesn't help he has a wife and 2 babies under 2 at home).He is soo home sick - if you had any recommendations I would love to pass them on. I can't think of exactly where he is stationed but he is very close to the border of Northern Korea.

Annette Piper said...

Lori, how wonderful to hear your story. My husband was in the Royal Australian Air Force for 11 years then in the reserves for another 4 years. Times of stress and worry, but great times too. I love your wedding photo - just gorgeous :D

Brandi said...

I'm a day late, but I just wanted to stop and thank you and your husband for your service. Because of what you did to keep our country safe, I can do what I do now. I never forget that, or forget to appreciate it.

Thank you!

R.Maria Sabina(Lollyrot) said...

respect for your job.thanks for sharing your pictures with us. the wedding picture is precious.

Kinderhook said...

I salute you & your husband, Lori. My brothers were both AF during Vietnam -- one was the last graduate of OCS (or something like that -- anyway, he didn't have a college degree and got to be an officer that way); the other went to the AF Academy. I am so happy that the country is now honoring our service men & women unlike the way they were treated back then. We are in debt to you all. Thank you. --SallyA

Elisabeth said...

Lori - great post - you way with words is incredible - and I LOVE your wedding picture - stunning!

Lori said...

Wonderful post! What an interesting story.

Bonhomie Jewelry said...

awesome post. loved to read about your personal experiences!

BTW, the photos of your pieces are awesome! especially the props you choose - they're perfect! what's your secret?