By Mark Greer, CEO of Mark D Greer Enterprises
As a four year old, I vividly recall the day my father left the Greyhound bus station in Brownsville, Tennessee on his deployment Vietnam. I recall saluting my father as we waited for the bus to leave the station. I also remember the tears of my mother and other family members as the bus pulled away from the station. The remarkable thing was that at no time did I shed a tear. As I reflect on that day, I realize that I never doubted that my father would return. That was simply because my father was my hero then and remains so to this very day. It was not conceivable to me that my father would not return. I also knew that my mother would need me too because my brother would be born within the next few months. At that tender age, I fully understood that my father was a soldier. I understood that his job was to protect this nation. In my eyes, it meant that my dad and all the other fathers were something special. I am sure many of my fellow “military brats” feel the same way.
My father returned safely from Vietnam. I was fully aware that there were those who did not. I often found myself wanting to befriend those who no longer had their fathers. That was a lesson I learned in seeing a man having a flashback and watching his fellow soldiers attempt to calm him down and help him get through the episode. It instilled in my mind that we need to be our brother’s keeper. Although I could not replace their fathers, I could be their friend. Amazing how the lessons that were never spoken but observed could impact my life. I am proud to say that my friendship with these individuals has lasted over all these years.
There is a bond that exists between soldiers that is as genuine and pure as anything on this earth. It is that kind of bond that I share with my fellow “brats” as well. That’s one of the great things I learned from growing up in the military environment, a sincere appreciation and acceptance of all people. As a child, I would often watch the interaction between my father and those he served with in Vietnam. It taught me the meaning of true friendship. No one looked at the color of the skin. They strictly saw the essence of the individual. That is probably the greatest lesson that I learned as a child. When I hear the term “military brat”, I smile with pride because that is what I am and what I will forever be.
For all those brave men and women who have served and are serving this nation, I thank you for your dedication, for your service and for your courage. In a country that so desperately needs heroes; we need to look no further than you. May God continue to bless you.