This post was written by guest blogger Douglas Roberts, a Cisco Communications Manager, Country Digitization. Douglas is a U.S. Army Veteran.
The worst part of deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan was the plane flight leaving the US, and the eventual return flight home. At some point during every flight to either Iraq or Afghanistan, I looked around the plane at all my buddies, my brothers and sisters that were deploying with me. And then, every single time, I came to the subsequent realization that some, if not many of them, would not be on the return flight with me.
I was tormented by not knowing who would be taking an earlier flight back home, straight to Dover, Delaware and then directly to Arlington National Cemetery; and who would still be sitting by my side after our time was up? Despite the joy of being on the return flight home after anywhere from six and 12 months, I actually prefer flying into a combat zone rather than leaving one, stripped of my previous ignorance.
I share this not for anyone’s pity; I volunteered to enlist, volunteered for Airborne School, and volunteered for Special Forces. And I do not share this to shame or pass judgment on those who chose other paths and did not join the armed forces, or for those who take advantage of this long weekend and warm weather. In fact, I implore you to take your loved ones to the pool or beach, drink beer and have a barbecue.
The fact that most of us have the freedom and ability to do so honors our fallen as much as anything else you could do this weekend. However, I would ask that at some point over this long weekend, stop and remember this is not an arbitrary long weekend to increase travel and department store sales. Take five minutes to research a fallen service member from your local community. Donate 10 dollars to the USO or many of the other worthy organizations we at Cisco support.
Most importantly, take the utmost advantage of as many freedoms as you can; freedoms we have because of the sacrifice of so many, of so many nations, over so many decades. All gave some. Some gave all. De oppresso liber.
Visit the Cisco Corporate Social Responsibility website and learn more about our Veterans Program!
About Doug Roberts:
Doug graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder with a bachelor’s of science in Anthropology. In 2005, he enlisted in the Army as a Psychological Operations Specialist. From May 2007-June 2008, he was deployed to Iraq during the Iraqi Surge. Upon return, Doug was selected for, attended, and graduated the US Army Special Forces Qualification Course. As a Special Forces Communications Sergeant, Doug deployed to Afghanistan from September 2011-2012 and again from November 2013-May 2014. Along the way, he was trained in and demonstrated proficiency in Arabic, French, and Russian. He officially left the Army and started working for Cisco June 2015. Monday is the first Memorial Day in ten years that Doug has spent as a civilian.