THE SPECTRUM- I’ve traveled all my life. I was the proverbial “Army brat.” My father was a Marine in World War II and then a soldier during the Korean War. He served a total of 24 years in uniform.
Growing up with concepts such as duty, honor, country and sacrifice, it just seemed natural that I too wanted to be a soldier. It was the only life I knew. As a junior in high school, I enlisted in the Army, much to my mother’s displeasure. My dad neither encouraged nor discouraged me, though he did suggest several times that I should think about the Air Force. At 17, things like “quality of life” and clean sheets are less important than glory and adventure.
My adventure in the Army started June 15, 1982, and ended Aug. 1, 2014. In that time, I visited all 50 states and was on duty in Canada, Germany, Honduras, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Qatar and Afghanistan. I’ve seen the most energetic and vibrant cities of the world and also the heart-breaking poverty and filth that many unfortunate people call their home. I’ve witnessed the struggles of people, living in fear, wanting to survive and provide a better life for their children. I’ve talked to the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. It has made me appreciate the way of life we have here in our country, thanks to the men and women who have served in the military. My gratitude extends to those who serve our communities in a hundred different ways.
My wife and I chose to live in Mesquite. We have lived here just over a year now, and we truly feel that this is our home. Although I am now a retiree, I still serve where I can. I volunteer with the Mesquite Volunteer Patrol, I help out at the St. George P.A.W.S. (animal shelter), and with the Friends of Gold Butte.
In Gold Butte, I’ve picked up trash, dug post holes and painted signs. I’ve collected native seeds that will be used for research and restoring damaged areas. I have received from Gold Butte more than I could ever repay. This place has given me one more reason to appreciate the country I serve.
Gold Butte National Monument is a very special place for me. It is a place of peace and serenity, a place that is so diverse and fragile. Gold Butte is unique for its abundant natural, historical and cultural treasures. Regardless of your political views, I think we can all agree that there are special places that need to be protected for future generations. Places where we can enjoy the beauty of the land through responsible use.
Everyone’s adventure (or service) in the military is so different that no two are even similar. Some endure the worst times of their lives while others experience only the best. Maybe it is how we remember things and the people we meet along the journey that define our adventure.
One common theme that every veteran will agree on is that many of the people we served with are some of the best our nation has to offer. I hope that every vet feels his or her service played an important role toward making the world a better place — that what you did made a difference.
For me, I will continue to make a difference in Gold Butte. Protecting Gold Butte National Monument is like protecting the United States. It is public land that belongs to all of us, now and in the future. Special places like this need, and deserve, to be protected.
We all can do our part by enjoying, appreciating and protecting our public lands. I invite you to add Gold Butte National Monument — or another amazing piece of public land — to your list of adventures. I can think of no better way to honor the veterans who have given their service and sacrifice to our great country.