As the long weekend draws to a close, I can't help being overwhelmed at the emotion I felt this weekend while participating in my USNA 15 year class reunion and paying respects at the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, and the USMC Iwo Jimo Memorial on this Veteran's Day.
As I crested the hill and crossed the Severn River into Annapolis, MD, tears welled up in my eyes at the beauty and glory of the US Naval Academy Yard. It was surreal to realize that I was a grad of this amazing institution despite my lacking the self esteem to allow myself to feel worthy for the last 15 years. The Yard is spectacular and the people who graduate from, educate in, mentor thru are absolutely incomparable. These people are contributing in BIG ways to the USA as military, educational, business, global, and legislative leaders.
Amongst the class of 1998 walks true heroes. There are current and former Navy and Marine sailors, marines, pilots, doctors, lawyers, commanders, wounded warriors, coaches, fathers, mothers, ironwomen, and athletes of all flavors. I wandered, "How can I possibly stand amongst these "giants"?" I stood quiet at first, listening to their updates and stories. I realized that I earned the right to be a proud graduate of Canoe U and that even these heroes had angst and insecurities. I wasn't so different after all. My classmates were interested in my story just as I was interested in theirs. As I continued to process the dynamics in the room, I realized that I truly was surrounded by people driven, like me, to change the world. How did this happen? These amazing people were not "giants" but incredibly smart and energetic people performing just as USNA trained us for while we spent "four years together by the bay." Our drive, results, determination, and dreams are no accident, it is by design. Those who came before me and those after me are in the same boat (pun intended).
I did not realize the magnitude of impact that Annapolis and the people I met while there continue to have on the woman I am today BUT I do now!! While not every member of the great class of 1998 was able to personally attend the reunion, I thought about each and every one of them raising children, running businesses, leading sailors and marines, deployed abroad, and those laid to rest for eternal peace. I am thankful to all of my classmates, professors, leaders, and soldiers for helping me to get where I am and for standing by me when I needed help. I am ready to return the favor.
As I walked the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery today, I wrestled with the guilt of taking each breath when there were thousands of my brothers and sisters in arms who can no longer do so. I promised today to make a difference in the world in their honor. I promised to reach out to veterans to help them up when they feel down. I promised myself to use the amazing strength, training, and education that USNA shared with and taught me because I owe it to all those who helped me get where I am today.
Thank you USNA Class of 1998 for a great weekend, USNA 35th & 2nd CO for being family, 1-1 Aviation for teaching me to be a warrior and Bobby, Jen, Steph, and Jeff for your service to country and being family, friend, and mentor for the last 14 years!!
I am proud to serve!