Growing up in a military family, certain holidays, such as Memorial Day and Independence Day, resonate differently with me than with most other people. On days that most people take for granted, I think of my family and the brave Americans who fight for our freedom each and every day.
My dad joined the Marines years before I was born and my brother followed in his footsteps, enlisting in the Marines at the age of 19. While my father was honorably discharged from the Marines years ago, he still lives his life by the Marine Corps motto, "semper fidelis" or "always faithful." My brother and I grew up with our father talking to us like a drill instructor and treating us like recruits. Even after a man leaves the Marine Corps, the mentality and the motto always live through him. While my father was a reservist and never had to fight in any wars, he was almost deployed to serve in Operation Desert Storm. My mother still has the letters my father would write her while he was in boot camp. He would stay up, writing letters late at night, because that was the only time he was able to write without getting yelled at by his drill instructors.
Growing up with a Marine father definitely had an impact on my brother. Ever since he was young, my brother would talk about joining the Marines once he was old enough. However, when he was younger, I assumed he only wanted to join the Marines because our father was a Marine. I did not think my brother wanted to join the Marines for himself - I thought it was just something he wanted to do to make our father proud. Once my brother got older, though, I realized my brother did actually have the makings of a Marine; he wanted to join the Marines because it was the right choice for him, not because anyone else made him feel obligated to do so.
On February 1, 2015, my nineteen-year-old brother, Tim, left for boot camp. I had gone from seeing my older brother every single day to three months without a phone call, email or text message. The only contact I had with my brother for three months was the occasional letter he wrote. I was still in high school at the time. Every day when I woke, I would think about what he was doing and how he was feeling at that particular moment in time. In his letters, he wrote about getting yelled at by his drill instructors for being distracted and looking at a parrot. My brother is also a reservist, like my father. However, I know that at any moment he could get called to active duty. Three months of no contact with him could turn into a lifetime without a brother. Every Independence and Memorial Day, I am reminded of my father's and brother's sacrifice, as well as the sacrifice many other Americans make to protect our freedom.