I get the rare privilege of meeting a lot of very interesting people. Some of these folks come to me through my service as a reserve officer in the Navy. The reserves are a much misunderstood aspect of our military. Since the end of the Cold War, the reserves have been remade into a part-time arm of the military. Routinely I have to juggle family life, civilian career and Navy duties in a single day (hour even!).
On occassion, we get the chance to do something we feel passionately about full-time. A fellow officer has been mobilized in support of our ongoing operations in the present conflict. He has built a great website, with stunning visuals and personal reflections.
He has a young family and may not have ever thought he would have to go back to active duty life. But he is and he is bearing that burden of duty with typical Navy grace and commitment.
Many others live in this strange dual world. Bridging the civilian and the military. Major John at Miserable Donuts is another member of this club. I think the members of the reserve components have a unique perspective on our way of life and the meaning of service. Unlike our opposite numbers in the civilian world (who have never served) or career military (who have never been a civilian), we experience the varied perspectives of each existence.
Those members who have retired or civilians who join, lose the advantage of simultaneous comparison. When immersed in one's own world it is very difficult to alter one's view. I can no more explain to my beloved spouse (adequately) my reasons for serving. Individuals who clamor for mandatory service also miss the point of service. Either they wish some "sharing of the burden" by some mysterious elite (either on the right or left) or wish to instill some nationalist pride they feel is lacking in the fabric of our society.
Everyone serves the nation in some way. No matter how small, their presence is important to our way of life.
It is the nature of service given by people like my friend, however, which permit all of us to be what we wish to be.
May Providence favor your journey and carry you safely home.