Veterans Day is a time to honor the soldiers who have served to protect America. Politics aside, many brave men and women have fought for the freedom of our country. Families have been broken apart, innocence has been robbed of young soldiers, and lives have been lost in order to preserve our rights as Americans.
My father was a veteran of the Vietnam war, and he didn’t necessarily come out a better person for it. In fact, I grew up looking up to a man hardened by the perils of what many thought was a war that should never have been fought. The death and chaos and deception of the war had left a permanent sadness in his eyes. He inspired me to let the darkness of the human experience fuel artistic endeavors. He was also the first person to teach me how to compost.
Nick Harroun, Navy Pilot and Vietnam Veteran
Another military man that had a lasting influence on my life is Nate Boyer, a Green Beret and former UT football player. When I met him in college, I was inspired by how his deep understanding of the shortness of life empowered him to take risks and focus his efforts on helping others. He inspired me to take a summer off to go volunteer in very unglamorous places in South America. He was also the first person to take me hunting.
Nate Boyer, Green Beret and former Texas Longhorn
The soldiers and veterans I know have a deep respect for the land for which they’ve fought. These men are not fighters first and foremost. Rather, they are sailors, fishermen, hunters, and gardeners. Their understanding of destruction actually fuels a deeper appreciation for life.
While we may not agree with war itself, we can agree on the fact that we have unparalleled freedoms here in the U.S. Soldiers have held guns in shaking hands so that we can hold fishing rods in serene rivers. Soldiers have left their families to put themselves in danger in foreign countries so that we can travel freely and safely. Soldiers have seen their friends die so that we can give birth to children who have endless opportunities.
This weekend, take a moment to appreciate the freedoms you have. Remember that you’re not special because you pursue outdoor sports and adventures—you’re privileged. People in other parts of the world hike and climb and hunt to survive. Those of us who have time and resources to pursue these recreationally owe thanks to the many soldiers that have fought for this land.