I’ve been thinking a lot about service lately.
As a result of the Women’s March, I took part in a postcard writing campaign with a few coworkers. Though the room was mostly filled with women (I was one of three guys), it was a group of like-minded people who came together as citizens, writing to our senators to enlighten them about what we care about most.
It was an exciting time, and I enjoyed reaching out about important issues; but, what struck me the most was what happened after the meeting. I was speaking to my co-worker, Rich, who had also joined me in the advocacy group when another female coworker (also involved in our advocacy group) walked by. She went past, stopped for a moment, and then came back. She hesitated for a moment before saying how cool it was that we were involved, and she thanked us.
It took a moment, but that struck me. I would argue I should thank them. My coworkers, the strong, independent firebrands, who, like so many kickass women in my life, aren’t backing down. It was inspiring to sit with them and join their cause.
A day later, I boarded a flight to Norfolk for a short business trip. I was lucky enough to be seated next to a young black kid, wearing his Navy dress, on his way to his first deployment on the USS Eisenhower. The kid, and I say kid because he couldn’t have been more than 19 years old, was nervous and excited. We exchanged pleasantries, and I wished him luck.
Sitting on the flight made me think, for the second time this week, about service to our country. Service can take many forms. It can be serving for jury duty or voting. It can be making your voice heard through marches or letter writing campaigns. It can be volunteering or serving our country in the Armed Forces.
Serving can take many forms, but the end result is generally the same: making our country a better place for ourselves and others.
I hold military service in high regard. I am surrounded by men and women who have served our country. My grandfather was a marine who fought at Guadalcanal. My father was a Navy man. And there are others. Army, Coast Guard, Air Force, you name it. For a while, and even occasionally to this day, I think about serving our country. My father, though, always encouraged me to look elsewhere. To seek a different life. He missed a lot of important moments and didn’t want me to do the same. But he and my mother have always encouraged me to serve in other ways. I joined the Boy Scouts, attaining the rank of Eagle Scout, where I was taught to do the most good, be a standout citizen and help others.
At some point along the way, I fell in love with politics. While many people hate everything about politics, I idealize all the good that can come from productive and responsible government. I have seen firsthand the things that we can accomplish when we work together. And I want to do that work.
For a long time, I thought I wanted to be the man behind a candidate, drafting speeches, creating messages, running campaigns. But that’s not the case anymore. Now, as I look at the state of our political systems, I see an opportunity for action. I want to follow the example of my family, friends, and mentors, and serve my country. I won’t wear a uniform, but I want to serve my neighborhood, my state and my country through productive and responsible representation.
I don’t know where this will go. I’m not sure what path I am on or where it will take me. But I know the time for sitting on the sidelines is over. Service takes many forms. I encourage you to stand up for what you believe in, call your senators, vote in elections, help the poor, provide a voice for the voiceless.
Democrat, Republican, Independent, Green Party or whatever else you might be, our country is a better place when we’re out there fighting for what we believe in.