At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, major hostilities of WWI formally came to a close. Originally Armistice Day, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed a year later:
“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”
In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first “Veterans Day Proclamation” and with the signing of HR7786, officially changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
At Bed|Stü, we’re honoring all veterans past and present, including two members of our own team.
M7-37: Alright, gents. We know you’re busy, but it’s Veterans Day and we wanted to sit down real quick to thank you and chat military service. So, first of all, thank you. ”Appreciation” doesn’t quite do justice.
Tell us a little bit about your service.
Mark: I served in the Marine Corps from 2004 to 2010.
Nathan: I was in the Navy and got out last year (2012).
M7-37: A Marine and a sailor. Are you guys allowed to get along?
Nathan: Well, we sit next to each other, so there’s constant fighting.
Mark: There’s definitely plenty of banter about branches… mostly because the other branches look up to the Marines. It’s kind of like a little brother trying to pick on his older, much tougher brother. While the older brother just laughs.
M7-37: What were your jobs in uniform?
Mark: My primary MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) was what’s known as a Fire Support Man. In that, I coordinated artillery, mortar, air, and naval gunfire from the ground—as a Scout Observer. I was also a Parachutist and a Martial Arts Instructor. Loved all three and I’d do it the same if I did it again.
Nathan: I was a Navy Corpsman, aka a glorified nurse, that’s not a joke. We’re like EMTs and nurses combined. And referred to as “Doc”. I was stationed with Marines at Camp Pendleton and learned that Marines are very unique characters.
Mark: I can’t argue with that.
M7-37: What initially motivated you guys to join the service?
Nathan: My mom, dad, multiple uncles, and grandfather all served in the Navy, so it had a lot to do with family tradition.
Mark: I just wanted to serve in Iraq and heard the Marines were sending people on paid vacations to the desert. I remember sitting down with the Marine recruiter for the first time and telling him about all the perks the other branches were offering me, especially with a college degree in my pocket. No joke, he look me in the eye and said “All I’m offering is a chance to fight for your country.” Pretty much sealed the deal for me right there.
M7-37: There are probably many, but what was your most memorable time in uniform?
Nathan: Hm. Mine was probably after the final 24-hour evolution in boot camp when we were presented with our Navy ball caps, signifying that were now officially a part of the United States Navy. I remember a lot of people crying and was thinking, “Why are you crying?” It was a mixture of different emotions for everyone. But I remember that vividly.
Mark: Mine would have to be the entirety of my experience in combat in Iraq. Not really one event, or patrol, or attack, but all of them combined. There’s really nothing like it: adrenaline, excitement, boredom, chaos. It was an intense and amazing experience that will be with me the rest of my life, to be sure.
M7-37: Alright, troops. Noticed you’re both rocking boots today. Not quite like the boots you wore in uniform, but tell us about them. Mark, you seem to be wearing the Protege a lot these days. (See how we pulled off that transition?)
Mark: [Laughing] Indeed. I kid you not, I’ve never been a boot guy. Not even since working at Bed|Stü. Until the Protégé. I’ve been wearing them non-stop since we got them in early August, and they get more comfortable each day. I understand now why people get excited about boot season. Can’t recommend them enough.
M7-37: Nathan, you’re in a pair of Patriot.
Nathan: These were also my first pair of boots. They’re super easy to put on, and totally comfortable. Pretty much the fashionable version of classic combat boots.
M7-37: How important were your boots in uniform? Is ‘boot camp’ still focused on cleaning your boots?
Nathan: Really important. Yeah, we had 20 minutes a day dedicated to cleaning, polishing, and inspecting our boots. But I don’t think they do that any more, even in boot camp, now that the boot material has changed.
Mark: Ironically, Marine Corps boot camp doesn’t have boot cleaning any more, even back in 2004 when I was a recruit. Modern boots are a combination of a rough leather and nylon fabric that don’t take polishing, but boots are still incredibly important. Taking care of your feet both in training and in combat is an imperative, and drilled into us by instructors. Boots have to be sturdy enough to take a beating, but functional enough that you can run in them. Boots are the foundation. I think every veteran knows this all too well.
M7-37: Alright, guys. Appreciate the perspective and again, thanks so much for your service.