Unspoken Heros

opinion of: DAVEN ROBERTS

The importance of honoring Veterans and realizing the naive nature of many Americans

“Pop,” spent five years in the Navy.Joining when he was 18, he served on submarines during the Cold War until he was 23. I’m ashamed to admit that until a couple weekends ago, I never asked him about it.
I sat with him for about 30 minutes and asked about his time in the service. After those 30 minutes, I saw my grandfather in a whole new light. I’ve always loved him, respected his many handy-man tricks of the trade, and admired his ability to love unconditionally, but what he did in the Navy is truly remarkable.
I think my generation is genuinely naive to the impact of our military. Sadly, the academies seem to be looked at as a economically beneficial option for school as opposed to the training centers for the most rigorious, important, and altruistic jobs one can hold.
The actions of the military are so far removed from the life of an average citizen. The most understanding one can gain of true miliatry work is from films and documentaries that pick and choose what is shown and what is not. For many of us, those serving seem so untouchable simply because we have no personal connection to them. But the reality is that we can all find a personal connection. Even if its researching online or reading the blog of retired solders, I encourage everyone to get to know a veteran.
For me, this mission was simple but impactful beyond words.
Pop decided to go into the military because he wasn’t happy with his where he was in life and wanted a fresh start. He went through the basic tests and passed with flying colors. He was told he could do anything he wanted for the military, and after reading up on the new nuclear submarine program, he chose to study nuclear engineering and then serve on  submarines.
The Navy built 41 nuclear submarines during The Cold War and they were called, “41 for Freedom.” Pop spent more than two years under water, the longest stretch being 143 days, doing what he refered to as “deterrent work.”
“I’m still very proud that we were the deterrent that said ‘If you attack us, you’re gone, we’re all gone.’ It worked because they couldn’t find us all,” said Pop.
Pop explained that on a submarine you rely on each other for life. There is a mutual understanding that not everything could end  well.
He explained everything in a way that was so real and relatable. Though is seems obvious, he reminded me that those in the service are people too and what they go through is, in fact, very real.
Pop has hearing aids due to the depth charges from when the oppositon would drop bombs in the water and for a while he wasn’t very open about his service. Now, he is filled with  pride, and rightfully so.
When asked what his time serving meant to him he replied, “Everything.” Without the military he assumes he wouldn’t be very happy in life. He has absolutely no regrets.
I can not emphasize enough how much I learned just from asking questions. Our Veterans do work that most of us can’t begin to imagine. They deserve recognition and they deserve to tell their stories. As a society, we need to be educated on the work of our  Veterans.
Get to know a Veteran, you will not regret it.

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