[The next guest blogger up in our "Why We Serve" series is none other than Sgt Hook. Sgt Hook will be attending the MilBlogging Conference in Washington DC and will be providing updates and reports about the conference on this blog, so be sure to check them out on the days surrounding May 5. We are sure you will enjoy his post in the "Why We Serve" series.]
I was born the son of a United States Coast Guardsman. His father an immigrant from Scotland who at age 14 arrived to Ellis Island and quickly went from the coal mines of Pennsylvania to the halls of a big city newspaper in Connecticut. He left Scotland after losing his father to the war, a proud warrior in the famed Scottish Black Watch Regiment.
My dad, my hero, the commander served some 28 plus years in the uniform of the United States Coast Guard first as an enlisted man, and later as an officer before retiring. As I moved towards maturity and my high school graduation, he tried to talk me into joining the service, any branch thereof, but at 18 years of age, having moved every three years while growing up, I wanted nothing more to do with military life.
Four years later, after dropping out of university and bouncing around from bartending job to bartending job, I joined the Army. I think it is important to note that why I joined is a bit different from why I serve. When I sat down with the recruiter, I was looking to put some direction into my life after leaving school and was very concerned with making enough money to pay on my student loans. I was adamant though in that I wanted a job that offered training in aviation so that I could use those skills as a civilian someday down the road.
Admittedly, patriotism and a sense of serving my nation were not upper most in my mind as I entered the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS); food, shelter, and bills most certainly were. I do think, however, that a sense of duty contributed to my decision in joining the Army (and not the Coast Guard is a post in itself). I say that because though I quite deftly negotiated for an aviation job with the Army counselor charged with drawing up my contract, the moment I stood flanked by our national colors with my right hand raised and swore an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, I felt my heart swell and I can sincerely say that it has not shrunk since, in almost 20 years.
“I, Sgt Hook, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
But that was when I joined and why I joined, this post is titled Why We Serve. I have taken that very same oath 4 times over since that 21st day of May, 1987, re-enlisting and re-affirming my commitment to serve.
I think it safe to say that I continued to serve for a myriad of reasons over the years. Foremost was/is that I absolutely loved my job. I mean how cool is it to get paid a decent wage to fly helicopters all over the globe, learn to shoot five or six different weapon systems, meet women from several different countries, attend military schools that challenge your soul, forge friendships for life, and make a difference in the lives of others? It truly isn’t just a job, it is an adventure (at least I didn’t throw in “being all one can be”).
As I grew up, both personally and professionally, I found that I continued to enjoy serving. I relished in teaching young Soldiers the lessons that I had learned and found pride in watching many of them rise up and meet challenge after challenge.
I eventually settled down, a little, married and started a family and my reasons for serving became firmly entrenched within who I am. When my son was born and I held him for the first time I was instantly overcome with just how heavy of a responsibility I faced in raising him. It was not lost on me that my chosen profession, the profession of arms, protected his future, defended a way of life that would provide him, and all the other babies in the hospital nursery, with freedoms and opportunities not found anywhere else in the world.
We serve not for ourselves, but for others; our children, family, loved ones, and friends. We serve for those that served before us, desperate to not allow their sacrifices be for naught, determined not to let them down. We serve for those unable to serve themselves, offering hope and help that they may one day know liberty. We serve in hopes that those we serve will be proud of us. We serve with honor. We serve in victory. We serve. Sgt Hook out.