What values do you want to pass down to your child? We teach our children kindness, patience, empathy, and service. There are teachable moments along the way when we instill values in our kids, and then there are times when we turn to role models for insight.
May is Military Appreciation Month, a time to honor the current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces, including those who have died in the pursuit of freedom. Inspired by our brave men and women that serve this great nation, I decided to ask Veterans one question:
What do you want young people today to know about serving our country?
Although they are retired, these Veterans continue to serve as docents at the USS Midway and the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum in Miramar. As always they were happy to help with this article, and I am humbled by their many sacrifices.
What do you want young people to know about serving our country?
Richard Earnest Carrier Based Fighter Pilot 1966-1974 & Lieutenant Commander
"Serving your country doesn’t necessarily mean taking up arms. It can be done in many ways. Volunteerism has been a backbone of our country for generations and continues to be important in the fabric of our society. We need volunteers to help our nation now more than ever. Only you can decide what this duty to serve means to you. Only you need to know. If you can explain it to family, friends and loved ones, so much the better, but nobody but you needs to know. This intimate relationship you have with your country only needs to be understood by you. It resides in your being and, when you stand to honor our country, only you need to know why."
Captain Bruce W. Churchill, Capt. U.S.Navy (Ret.), Docent USS Midway
“Serving your country is about patriotism, but it is more than just that. Being patriotic is a passive activity. Serving is also about leading people, sometimes under stressful conditions, and the importance of teamwork. It is about learning the personal values of humility, integrity, and sacrifice. These values require active involvement with people. It is learning that people, not machines lead to successful outcomes. My best experiences in my 25 years in the Navy were my positions of leadership where I knew I was influencing the lives of dedicated and highly-motivated young men and women. Service also leads to genuine feelings of self-worth and accomplishment. Serving your country with enthusiasm and a willingness to learn will provide the foundation for positive outcomes in later careers that draw on your technical, operational and leadership experience.”
Rob Boyd Aviation Structural Mechanic 2nd Class, Served 1973-1976 Docent USS Midway
"The message I have for today’s youth is from an experience I had during the evacuation of Saigon April 1975. “Operation Frequent Wind”. The countless acts of sacrifice were carried out by 18 to 22-year-old young men. The situation for the evacuees was desperate. These young men willed into existence the phrase “The needs of the many are greater than the needs of the few”. Courage is a byproduct of a selfless act. To do something for someone else is the highest calling. The slogan “so others may live” echoes from a selfless heart. It sounds big but it starts with opening a door, saying thank you, or giving up your place in line. It’s never too early or to late to serve your country. Actions become muscle memory make them selfless."
Willis King Lt. Col USMC Retired
"I am more proud of giving back as a Docent than my 22 years of service as a Marine Aviator. The life lessons that I learned in combat and flying strengthened my courage and resolution that I am “my brother's keeper!” I believe any type of service to this great country is educational as well as building a better perspective of what we have here in the USA It was worth it in my life to stand up and volunteer to serve and I would recommend every young American follow the leadership principle that J.F.K. stated in his inaugural address in 1961.....“Ask, not what the country can do for you, but what can YOU do for your Country!”
Rudy Shappee, Chief Warrant Officer-2, USN, Retired Life-long Volunteer
"Be sure to remember that there is more than one way to serve our great country. While the military services may not be appropriate opportunities for everyone, there are countless needs in our communities to serve. From petting animals at the local animal shelter to teaching young people to read; from visiting the aged confined to their homes, to assisting at a nature center; all of our communities have the need for us to serve. And through our service, we prove the value we place in having a caring community and a great country."
Tom Phillips, Lieutenant Commander, USN (Retired) Docent USS Midway
"People talk about joining the Army or joining the Navy, etc. etc. but, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, or Navy, we call it The Service, That sums it up. We are serving our country, not just doing some money grubbing job or selfish self-centered pursuit. But while serving, you have many reasons to feel very good about yourself.
John F. Kennedy, A navy man himself from World War II is quoted:"
"And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: 'I served in the United States Navy.”
Major General Bob Butcher USMC
"I’d like the young Americans of today to know that freedom is not free! In many ways, we do not speak the same language, in spite of the fact that we use the same words. However, they surely must appreciate the fact that the freedoms that we Americans enjoy are not available anywhere else in the world."
Harry Heggie Retired Chief Petty Officer, Served 1960-1979
“There is nothing more honorable than serving your country”
Brigadier General Mike Aguilar USMC
"I would like young people to know and appreciate that every citizen of our nation has a responsibility to ensure future generations can enjoy the freedoms and liberties we all share today. This requires of us to be willing to serve the nation in some capacity. It could be as a member of the military, other public services or just being a responsible, law-abiding citizen. Our freedoms and liberties are not free."
Jon Ryan Ship Company Officer USS Hornet CV-12 & USS Kearsarge CV 33 Served in Vietnam
"Being a part of something much bigger than yourself."
Sergeant Major Mike Zacker, USMC (Retired)
"The United States Marines have been keeping the children of the United States and the rest of the world safe for Two-Hundred and Thirty-Four years. We have your backs."
Major Glenn Ferguson, USMC (Retired)
"Freedom Is Not Free."
David Zekert, Civilian
"There are mental and physical requirements for serving in the Armed Forces but anyone can serve our country. If you want to improve our country then start by improving yourself. Stay in good physical shape, learn as much as you can, and be respectful towards others. The more you do to improve yourself the better you will be able to serve your country when you are called to do so."
Sgt. Bill Nelson, USMC
"I joined the Marine Corps right out of high school. The military provided me with Responsibility ‹ Accountability ‹ Direction ‹ Supervision and the ability to appreciate our country. I was fortunate to be born in The United States. The military gave me the tools to show me what a great country the USA is."
Captain Ronald Ress, US Navy (Retired)
"When you serve our country, you get back more than you give. Along the way, you see and do things you never even thought about, and you collect the best friends you will ever find."
Rear Admiral Lou Smith, US Navy (Retired)
"I want you to know that serving our country is not only an amazing amount of fun but also immensely rewarding."
Captain Elsa P. Ang, MC, US Navy (Retired)
"It is your privilege to serve the land of your birth, the greatest democracy in the world and where your loved ones live. America is my adopted homeland. I will not live anywhere else in the world."
Lt. Colonel Richard Toettcher, USMC (Retired)
"It is a right and an honor to serve your country.
Lt. Colonel Charles A. Pinney, USMC (Retired)
"In order to deserve to be a citizen of this country, you should strive to make the country a good place to live. You can serve in many ways. Your actions should be guided by the Pledge of Allegiance."
Corporal Lou Oberman, USMC
"I am an advocate of students graduating from high school, should serve for at least two years, their country and themselves in the armed forces prior to entering college or trade school and the job markets. Being in the armed services will enhance your personal profile and resume.Think about all you will learn, the discipline which will make you a better person, the places you will see, and the people you will meet. In addition, you will be serving your country with honor and respect. Following your tour of duty, you will be amazed and impressed with the doors open to you due to this experience."
Frank Lorey, Historian
"That it is an honorable and patriotic way of defending our country and what we believe in. It shows a selfless desire to do what is best to preserve our way of life."
C.J. Machado, Veterans Advocate
"Always remember, it is an honor to preserve our freedoms and liberty. There is nothing more heroic than service to others before yourself."
Discover more history by visiting The USS Midway and The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum with your children. Both museums are kid-friendly and hands-on. Veterans are on-site daily and give in-depth talks about training for various missions and their experiences in battle.
USS Midway Museum 910 North Harbor Drive San Diego, CA 92101 Tel. (619) 544-9600 www.midway.org
The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum 4203 Anderson Avenue San Diego, CA 92145 Tel. (858) 693-1723 www.flyingleathernecks.org
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