We have a lot of Veterans in our gym. All Different ages, ethnicities, background, upbringings et cetera. One thing remains constant, however: They sacrificed. Sacrifices come big and small. This post and the accompanying video on our social media highlights what its like from a veterans perspective. We can wax poetic all day, but sometimes, our vantage point needs to change. To see what its like for veterans, we must turn to veterans and let them do the talking.
I sat and debated on how to write for this blog, as it is near and dear to my heart, having served 7 years in the Air Force. I dug through some of my old military records, checked the pockets of my old uniforms and looked through old photo albums, but everything that I looked at just came up short. Then I dug through my closet through some of my older journals. I found what I had been looking for.
This post is from a journal entry back in March of 2007. Ten years ago, I got on a plane for the first time. I was leaving Cleveland and traveling to San Antonio for United States Air Force Basic Training. I had no idea what to expect and my 19 year old mind was racing with doubt, worry, concern and just about every other emotional sensation you can fathom. While this is a deeply personal post, I hope that you can take something away from this in relation to your own life, whether you had a family member serve or you yourself wore the uniform.
18 March 2007
"After what seemed like a lifetime of waiting (I'm getting accustomed to it), we finally climb aboard the aged shell of the "Economy Class" C-RJ. Nothing like I had envisioned. The inside was cramped but I overlooked that. This being my first time flying, I was more anxious with a bit of underlying fear. I crouch down and squeeze myself into the worn edges of my seat. Leaning over and peering out of my small window, I notice that I am right on the wing, scary at first but later I'll find that the leg room associated with this seat is a god send.
The stewardesses do what I assume is their routine, showing us, the concerned passengers, useful tips like how to buckle up and use our cushion as a floatation device in case of a "water landing", as they say. I pay very little attention to that and only grasp at words like "fire", "emergency", "engine failure" and "complimentary drinks". Instead, my focus lies outside my window. I look out at my previous existence, waiting for the ground to rush by. Again...lots of waiting. We do move however. Our plane taxis up and down the runway in an extremely orchestrated series of maneuvers. Our pilot is good. (I think?)
After the flight attendants brief us on the use of electronics and describe the in-flight entertainment (which consists of a magazine and the wonderfully dull pattern sewn into the seat in front of me) we have positioned ourselves at the start of the runway awaiting what I assume would be approval from the air traffic controller. Finally, a "ping". "This is your captain speaking" he says calmly. I wonder if he ever gets nervous? "Please prepare for takeoff." Oh, believe me, I am. My death grip on the cheap plastic arm rest proves that.
Our plane moves forward. Slowly at first and then suddenly I am nudged back into my seat as if the plane is saying "relax Cameron." I resist and watch the painted lines whiz by gradually picking up speed. I stare intently. Then the nose springs up and with that, my pulse climbs too. Faster now, we are completely off the ground and I can feel it. The rumble of the runway is below me. I'm floating.
We levitate and the lines below fade. Now the airport facilities are in full view. From the ground, one cannot really appreciate the amazing details that a runway holds. So many turns and just as many planes, all coming and going with outstanding accuracy.
In an instant, the sudden lift had caused my stomach to drop and turn to knots. We rise faster and for that moment everyone is silent until they are convinced that we made it safely from the ground up into the air. I continue to stare out of my window looking at things in a wider scope really makes you appreciate the modern marvel that is the American highway system. The plane is now several thousand feet above earth. It's mind boggling to think that, in a way, we have defeated gravity. We bank sharply, tilting my view skyward. Neat, except the bank has left my guts stuck to the left side of my body.
We level out. Again I see tiny houses, minuscule cars and clouds level from my vantage point. Before I get a chance to relax, we cross over water. Great. I watch intently for any sudden drop bit instead I notice the whitecaps appearing and then dissolving into Lake Erie. Beautiful. From this height it looks like a rippling and constantly moving desert until it collides with solid ground. A small river glides through the city of Cleveland. The mouth opens up into the larger body of water. I see the downtown area and we bank to circle around. I dip towards land this time and I am left speechless. Spectacular view. Again we level out, leaving me wanting more. I continue my gaze until the land meets the sky and my mind can no longer decipher the two. Next stop: basic training."
Happy Veterans Day to all that have served.