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Why do you serve?

Taylor Gosse (right) and Andrew Jenkerson enlisted into the N.H. Air National Guard by Col. Peter Sullivan outside the 157th Air Refueling Wing headquarters, Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H., September 11, 2012.

Col. Peter Sullivan, 157th Air Refueling Wing vice commander enlists Taylor Gosse (right), and Andrew Jenkerson into the New Hampshire Air National Guard, Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H., Sept. 11, 2012. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Aaron P. Vezeau)

PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.H. -- Do you remember why you joined the military? Was it a recruiting poster? Perhaps it was the uniform, or was that just me? Was it to pay for college? Job training? The extra money?

Maybe for some of you prior Air Force, or other active duty services, it was to finish up a 20 year career. Every commemorative holiday geared towards the military I consider this question.

I march in one or two parades every year and listen to the speeches and stand proudly with my fellow veterans and wonder what their stories are, why did they join?

I see all the tributes, documentaries and movies on TV about the wars we've been in and the lives that were lost, and are still being lost, in defense of our nation. Like anyone it makes me sad. But also very proud, proud to be part of the small percentage of Americans that wear, or has ever worn the uniform.

This last Monday I was in a Memorial Day parade in York, Maine. It was rainy with only a few people showing up to participate. Our small group marched along with the veterans group who lay the wreaths of flowers at all the military monuments along the route.

Per my request I had the honor to lay a wreath at the bottom of the World War II monument where the name of my mother's only brother is listed. His wife had their daughter after he shipped out but he never got to see her. He was notified of her birth and was killed shortly after -- he was 23 years old. My uncle was buried in England like so many soldiers of that time, never to go home again.

I will be making the trek to England in the fall to lay flowers on his grave, since we only recently found where he was buried, it will be the first time anyone from our family has ever been there.

I think when we consider why we joined the military, there are so many reasons on the surface ... but when you get right down to it, we all know it takes a special kind of person to sign their life away in the service of your country.

So never be embarrassed or shy when people see or find out you are in the military and they say thank you. Be proud of yourself, and your service to the state of New Hampshire and this country.

Every drill I come in and look at all of you I am in awe of your professionalism and dedication to our mission. And most of all, your positive attitudes in the face of high ops tempos and increased deployments. I know that's not always easy, but you make it look that way.

Thanks for all you do!