YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Lt. Col. John Boccieri, a deployed Air Force Reserve airman reflects upon the American spirit...
I believe ordinary citizens become extraordinary through service. But what does it take for someone to be considered extraordinary?
Many people do extraordinary things daily.
We witness this, for instance, when a young boy holds the door for an elderly woman entering the store, or a when citizen jumps onto the subway tracks to rescue a person who fell in front of an oncoming train, or when a father donates a kidney so that his teenage daughter may live. These examples demonstrate to us that ordinary citizens just like you and I can be moved to extraordinary service.
I believe ordinary citizens become extraordinary through service to others. The separation from ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra each of has to give for the betterment of us all.
Those who serve our nation give that little extra every day. Because the United States military is made up of an all-volunteer force - which in itself is extraordinary - members of the military often view themselves as ordinary. However, the past decade of war and the history of our veterans of wars past, show us time and time again that these seemingly ordinary citizens can be moved to extraordinary service for our country.
An ordinary citizen who gave a little extra for our nation is Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Gross, from Stow, Ohio. Gross lost his leg in a suicide car bomb attack in Iraq in 2005. As an amputee, ordinary life presents challenges, however, as a Wounded Warrior Project Coordinator, Gross is bringing hope to other wounded veterans; helping soldiers with Traumatic Brain Injuries, amputations and other life-changing injuries.
Joseph Gross is an ordinary citizen performing an extraordinary service for America.
United States Army Veteran Joseph Vrabel, from Youngstown, Ohio, served our nation in the Korean War. When he returned home, he continued to give a little extra to our nation. Vrabel joined his local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and American Legion posts, and became a commander for Ohio. Vrabel continued to serve, and in his duties with the VFW and American Legion he provided gifts to hospitalized veterans during the Holidays. He sponsored a van transport program for veterans seeking medical care at Northeast Ohio Veterans Clinics. Vrabel also supported local youth teams, raising awareness of veterans' issues. Recently, Vrabel was inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame for extraordinary service on, and off, the battlefield.
I believe these, and many other extraordinary veterans share something in common. When you meet them, you see they have a spirit about themselves, a distinctive spirit which is uniquely American.
This American spirit is what drives ordinary citizens, people like Gross and Vrabel, to extraordinary service to their nation. This American spirit motivates them to leave our country only because our government asked them too.
This American spirit sustains our veterans when they are away from their families. This spirit sustains them when they miss their children's birthday, when they miss an anniversary or the holidays because they are overseas in harm's way. This American spirit is about service and reflects the hope and promise that is America. This American spirit is why we wear the uniform and commit ourselves to the defense and service of our nation.
Veterans Day is about service and sacrifice. It is a day to thank veterans for their extraordinary contributions to America, but it is also a day for all of us to renew our call to serve each other and give a little extra.
After all, when we serve each other our nation gains strength. Our nation stays strong because so many before us have served, so many before us have been strong. We live in a strong country, with an American Spirit that allows each of us to become extraordinary.
And for that opportunity we should thank a veteran.
Lt. Col. John A. Boccieri is deployed to Southwest Asia as the Deputy Commander for the 386 Expeditionary Operations Group. He is also the 773rd Airlift Squadron Commander at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Vienna, Ohio, and served as Ohio's 16th District Congressman in the 111th Congress.
By USAF 1st Lt. Nathan Wallin
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