By Col. John DiGiambattista, Commander, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry DivisionNovember 10, 2016
Two weeks ago, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, departed Korea after nine months in the country. As we said farewell to our secretary a pleasant Korea lady she said, "Thanks, not only from me, but thank you for your service in defense of Korea." I thought this odd that an individual would thank us for our service in defense of their nation, but then I realized that every Korean who had said good bye had also added, the same epitaph, thank you for your service in defense of our nation.
It is a thank you that is a bit unique and comes from people whose nations has prospered, in part, due to the United States partnerships and alliance with them, and of course thought their own hard work. Nevertheless, this kind of thank you is part of being a veteran and I think it is something unique to veterans. The idea that an American would deter their own interests to a cause greater than themselves is, today, almost unfathomable. In an era of selfies and validation through social media, going to faraway places at inconvenient times is unheard of. Risking your life in defense of others you have never met is inconceivable.
This is what makes being a veteran so unique in America today. It is not that there are so few of us, it is that we volunteered to serve this great nation, come what may. Plus, when this service requires us to leave the amenities of this great country, we do. In the most extreme environments imaginable, with our lives at risk, we execute the directives of our nation with discipline and care.
In choosing a life of service, we become part of something greater than ourselves, part of the most disciplined group of human power the world has ever known. When led we, we have changed the course of history, and have snatched victory from certain defeat. We have believed more in ourselves and our brothers and sisters than the pundits on television arm chair critics far from danger back at home. We change the lives of the people we have been sent to protect. This is why 70 years later, different American Soldiers hear the sons and daughter of those same people say thank you while we continue to volunteer and serve.