Over the course of the last two years I have had the privilege of hiking 5000 miles on two of our National Scenic Trails (the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails), and I’ve gotten to know veterans from all across the country… They don’t always share my politics (my facebook feeds can attest to that!), but I’ve learned that we have one very important thing in common, our willingness to drop everything and go the the aid of a fellow in need… We strive to leave no one behind… Growing up I associated this “leave no man behind” ethos with one of my heroes, my dad, a Vietnam combat veteran, but it wasn’t until my AT and PCT thru-hikes that I began to associate it with the military and with other veterans.
Though different branches of the service phrase it differently, “I will never leave a fallen comrade”– US Soldiers Creed, “I will never leave an Airman behind”-Airman’s Creed, “I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy “-Ranger Creed, the basic idea remains the same… No man left behind… To me, it is a dedication to our humanity even in the most inhuman of circumstances… It is a way of life… It is a willingness to make sacrifices in honor of a commitment to your comrades, a commitment to your family, to your friends, to your community, and even to the stranger that reaches out to you… To me it is an acknowledgment of, and a dedication to, our shared humanity and it transcends politics and religion… It is a sentiment that makes you a part of my family, whether you know it or not.
Saying thank you to our veterans feels like a start, one step towards acknowledging the sacrifices made by our servicemen and women, one step towards welcoming our veterans back into the civilian world, but it is just a beginning. I want to do more than just say thank you… I want to recognize all of my friends and family that have served… I want to remind them that I am interested in their stories… I am interested in their lives… I want to take the time to recognize our shared humanity, and I want to grow our relationship based on that humanity, as perfect or as flawed as that may be… I want to hear the stories that you want to share, I want to respect your right to silence… I believe that no one should be left behind (in any sense), and I will strive, today and everyday, to renew that commitment to my friends, my family, my community, and to the veterans that I have had the privilege and honor of knowing.
For other posts I’ve written about veterans: Getting Thru and The Silence.
You have been an inspiration to me. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. I hope to follow in your footsteps in a few years. I especially appreciate this post, reminding me of my father-in-law who just recently passed away. You are an awesome journalist and I aspire to someday be able to capture the essence of my days like you can.
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Can you please let me know how to get hard-hand-held copies of your entire blog story from the AT and the PCT trip? I want to share them with friends who don’t read on the computer or with electronic devices. Your stories are amazing and you are so talented at telling your adventures. I will pay!!! Please let me know how to get printed copies of your blogs. Thanks so much!!! Where is the next big adventure going to be?? Much love – Cindy Adrien- email@example.com
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Reblogged this on tjunleashed and commented:
Browsing WordPress and came upon these worthy words.
Thank you! Honoring those who serve, past and present, is a wonderful tribute to do! I like your info on the branches who use the “no man left behind.” Yes, your writing stirs up the “remembering” as they are away from their families today, so we can enjoy our daily life. Keeping them in prayers, as no man or woman left behind or forgotten. blessings, denise