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Nicole Bires Headshot

A Soldier's Perspective on Memorial Day

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We wear dog tags around our necks... just in case.

We weave dog tags into our boot laces... just in case.

We keep tourniquets in uniform pockets... just in case.

We have been known to tattoo our blood type, names and Social Security numbers on our bodies... just in case.

We sign wills, have family care plans for our children (or dogs)... just in case.

We write "last letters" to our loved ones before we go... just in case.

We leave for months at a time and go too far off places that are dangerous, unforgiving and inhospitable.

I have been asked on numerous occasions "why" I chose this path when I was 17 years old. It's easier to write then to speak my reasons, so here goes:

I serve for those that call me daughter, sister, aunt, grandchild, cousin, niece, godmother, goddaughter, friend, Officer Bires, Major Bires, ma'am, soldier and even names I won't repeat.

I serve for my brother the Marine, my grandfather the WWII sailor, my uncles the Vietnam soldiers.

I serve for those that call me a hero, even though I know I'm not.

I serve for those that can't or won't.

I serve for the men and women of the Alsip Police Department.

I serve for the sailors that perished at Pearl Harbor; the Marines that were attacked in Beirut; the soldiers betrayed at Fort Hood; and the police officers, firemen and civilians of September 11th.

I serve for SFC John J. Tobiason, a fine soldier under my command, whom I failed to bring home the first time I went to war.

I serve for those that came before me, serve by my side today and those that will be privileged enough to join the best military in the world in the future.

I serve for those that made the ultimate sacrifice and those they left behind to pick up the pieces.

I serve regardless of the color, religion, nationality, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, political party or gender of my fellow service members.

I serve because I swore an oath to protect this country from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

I proudly serve with Yanks, Brits, Aussies, Kiwis and dozens of other allied nations that have answered the call to protect freedom.

I serve to protect my family, my fellow service members, my president, my country, my God.

I do this of my own free will, knowing that at any moment my family can get a knock on the door announcing the worst. I have been in the military for more than half my life and I don't regret it for one moment.

Why do I wear the uniform of the United States of America?

Easy. I do it for you.