Ohio - Lt. Col. John Boccieri, a deployed Air Force Reserve
airman reflects upon the American spirit...
ordinary citizens become extraordinary through service. But what
does it take for someone to be considered extraordinary?
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.
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
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.
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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