What Veterans Day Means, In My Voice

Veterans Day is an annual holiday that celebrates the sacrifices and merits of our armed forces. No matter which branch you served, and no matter how long you served, Veterans Day is observed by our country to honor you, our military members.
Today is not about me, but about the service that military men and women like me have devoted their time, skills, and passion to our Country. This is why I want to share my story, so the undertones of patriotism and military service can ring through on this Veterans Day.

Answering A Call

The day that reshaped my life, like most Americans, was September 11, 2001. I remember that Tuesday morning when I saw death and destruction hit American soil like never before. At the time I was sitting in my 10th grade Math class going through an average day when in an instant, everything changed.
While that terrible day has had a sweeping impact on the economic, cultural, and political course of American history, it also had a sweeping impact on the course of my life. Because of the horrific acts on that Tuesday morning, I starting thinking about what country, God and freedom meant to me. Even more, I started thinking about how I can find those answers in tangible and meaningful ways.

The First Step For My Life

I joined the Marine Corps in 2006 at the age of 19, after my freshman year of college. I experienced constant physical and mental stress during the 13 weeks of Bootcamp. Through that experience, I realized what I was capable of overcoming almost anything and that I could accomplish a great feat with the bonds of Brotherhood of the Marines around me.
After Bootcamp, I joined my unit, MWSS 471 (-), in Fort Snelling, MN. My job was Expeditionary Airfield Systems Technician (EAF), and our mission was to operate, manage, and build runway and lighting systems on bases and forward operating bases throughout the world. Unfortunately and with great personal devastation, in 2008 I suffered a knee injury that would limit my ability to serve and ended my pursuit to be a commissioned officer in the USMC. In 2011 I was medically separated from the Marine Corps.

Reflection On Service

No matter if you served in the military or not, we all know what it means to pursue our dreams. Courage, Sacrifice, and Duty are just a few terms that stand out when we think about what it means to be an American. No matter your race, religion, or background, we all, as Americans, pursue the basic tenants that are outlined in the Constitution.
We all have a duty to our Country. This means many things, but includes voting, and engaging with our community to help build a better tomorrow. You might hear a lot of preaching about different politics or other issues today, but let me be clear; this country is only as strong as the communities we foster.
You don’t have to be in the military to show strength. It takes courage to do the right thing, and that is an ongoing battle because each day brings its challenges. Doing the honorable thing in a tough situation takes more courage than you might think. This means we all need to be committed to doing the right thing in everything you do and honor our Veterans each day, not just during November of each year.

Service Echoes Through Kappa Sigma

My five years in the Marine Corps taught me a lot about myself, my Country, and what it means to be in a Brotherhood. I continue today to rely on my other LIFELONG brotherhood: Kappa Sigma.
The lessons I learned during my service apply directly to us as Kappa Sigmas. We need to be honorable men who are courageous in the face of fear, but we must also be diligent in our pursuit of wisdom and action. We have a duty to our communities, not just as Kappa Sigmas, but as men, to help and lead those around us and build a healthy community.
I challenge you to fulfill your obligations as a Kappa Sigma by volunteering in your community. Push your brothers to be better men who showcase what Kappa Sigma stands for. Raise more money for charities than any other group on your campus, and volunteer more hours than any other organization to deserving organizations.
It’s our duty as Americans, not because we have to, but because we can.
I challenge each of our brothers, on this Veterans Day and every day, to be courageous by simply doing the right thing. So we must sacrifice our time, talent and treasure to for the betterment of our country and community and we should take every day.

Philip Burns
Beta-Mu, 2004
United States Marine Corps