We may not agree on politics or religion. We may have had countless childhood disagreements. Twenty years of living in different states or countries have kept us from being very close. One thing is for certain, however. I couldn’t be more proud to say that you, Paul Kelly, are my brother.
I regret that I could not join you to honor your twenty years of service and retirement from the Air Force. I’m glad that you were surrounded by friends and family and that the military honored you with such a nice ceremony, from what Mom has told me and the pictures I’ve seen.
You’ve endured a lot over those twenty years in service to the country. You’ve had to spend much of the time away from your parents and extended family in Indiana, California, Michigan, and elsewhere. You’ve had to move your family all over with you. For that I thank you.
I also thank you for your service in Iraq. Like I’ve said before: you and I don’t agree on most politics, and I was mad that you went over there. I was mad that the war was happening at all, that there was a distinct possibility that I could lose my brother, and that the family would lose you. In a democracy, we can disagree about the country’s direction without dishonoring those who serve. I couldn’t have been more proud of you for your choice to serve.
You signed up for a job that meant you were willing to risk everything up to and including your life in service to the country, no matter what happened. That takes courage, a sense of moral duty, and respect for what this country stands for. You have all of that and more.
Thank you, Paul. I was thinking of you and wanted to offer up my thoughts on this Veterans Day.
(Oh, and congratulations on the civilian job offer!)