News: Veterans Day brings cavalry soldiers together
FORWARD OPERATING BASE FRONTENAC, Afghanistan -- Growing up in Westwood, Calif., U.S. Army Spc. Riley Miller enjoyed playing chess, loved reading and never thought twice about raising his right hand to join the military.
For Miller the closest he ever came to understanding the military growing up was through the stories his grandparents told him on rare occasions.
Every year on Nov. 11, Miller said he would watch his grandfather become quiet and keep to himself as others celebrated Veterans Day.
“When I think about Veterans Day I always think back to my grand dad and how he would become quiet,” Miller said. “I knew I would never know what he went through so I just gave him space and respect.”
Thousands of miles away and on the opposite side of the United States in Birmingham, Ala., Spc. Jason Harris spent most of his holidays clinging to pictures of his dad.
Unlike Miller, Harris enjoyed sports and excelled at school when he could. Because Jason’s dad was in the 5th Special Forces Group from Fort Campbell, Ky., he didn’t get to spend a lot of time in one place. Like many ‘Army brats’ the demands of everyday life were made a reality early.
For Harris, Veterans Day, was a holiday chalked up to his dad being gone, and although he missed his dad he said he grew to understand why he chose to serve.
“I was always proud of my dad and Veterans Day took on a special meaning for me,” Harris said. “He’s the reason I joined and the reason I will continue to serve.”
Miller, 21, is an information technology specialist while Harris, 24, is a cavalry scout.
One is 6 feet tall while the other just 5 feet 10 inches on a good day.
On paper the two are complete opposites with completely different backgrounds and different ways of remembering past Veterans Days, however, as the upcoming holiday approaches and Americans all over the world celebrate the sacrifices of all the men and women serving in the military, both past and present, the loner from Westwood High School and the popular southern boy have found themselves sharing one thing; they are both part of the many service members who can call themselves veterans.
The two are both soldiers deployed to southern Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom with the 5th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team.
“I have a better understanding than I did before,’ Miller said. “Although what I am doing is nothing compared to what my grand dad went through, I feel like maybe in a small way I know why the holiday meant so much to him.”
When you look at all the veterans, Harris said “there’s nothing that distinguishes them from everyone else it’s just an internal drive to do something not many people can do.”
“When you go to war your past is thrown out the window,” Harris said. “Your priorities become the safety of your battle buddy and how you were raised doesn’t matter anymore.”
They both agree that being veterans holds a very special meaning that only other veterans understand.
“It’s great to be honored but at the same time I didn’t join for celebrations and the parades,” Harris said. “It’s special to be included in a group of people that includes grandparents and other family members throughout the years.”
“I’m proud to represent my family and serve,” Miller said.
The two have embraced the bond that they will forever share and have made a promise to themselves to focus on the sacrifices made by those who came before them.
For Miller it’s for the solemn grandfather while for Harris it’s for the loving and caring father who fought to raise a son who would become a young soldier.
Date Posted:11.10.2011 13:56
Location:FORWARD OPERATING BASE FRONTENAC, AF
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