Editor's Note: We are grateful for all that our veterans have done for our country, including our undergraduate student veterans. Read about their reflections on their service and what Veterans Day means to them. - Kayla McDonald, Assistant Director of Admission
Tyler Eddy '21
Often while reflecting on my service, I think about the transformation that occurred over the five years I spent on active duty. When I first joined, I was very young, and although serving the country was a reason I enlisted, it wasn’t the primary one. I wanted to see the world, learn a trade and gain experience. In other words, it was for me. Those five years consisted of many trying times that made me question, “Why am I doing this?” And although I remembered those selfish reasons for joining, gradually I felt more significant power in understanding the meaning of service to the nation. This was certainly the result of the amazing leaders I was fortunate to interact with and work alongside during my time in the Marine Corps, men and women who had served their entire lives. From their experience I began to understand that service is substantially more about those who aren’t wearing a uniform. I learned that discomfort and difficulty are precisely the reasons why we serve, so others may continue to enhance our American ideals and fashion an improved world in relative safety and peace.
Now looking back on my service, I am eternally grateful for what I have been given. I understand the Marine Corps has helped define who I am and placed me on the trail I am on today, which has led to Princeton. I am proud of my service and thankful for the brotherhood I experienced during my time in the Corps. I am humbled when I think of the great leaders I’ve known who continue to refine their charges, empowering them to become the successful individuals of our future. I see now it is my time to advance the constitution of this great nation while others serving ensure my safety and peace, and there is no more empowering place to do so than Princeton. This University in a variety of aspects embodies the ideal places of those who serve and wish to protect, crafting the leaders of the future under the banner, “…the service of humanity.” It is places like Princeton where one finds the ultimate expression of freedom, liberty and understanding that embody the values of our country that may be lost in other parts of the world. In this role, understanding my service has become more about appreciating the sacrifice of those who are serving now, as well as those who have served the nation before me. For me, service is our mutual struggle to improve the lives of everyone and create a better future.
Thomas Johnson '22
I wasn’t positive what I wanted to do with my life when I joined the Army right out of high school. The military was a family business. My father, mother and grandfather had all served in the Army and it seemed like the right choice for me. I learned a lot throughout my four years in the Army and I’m very thankful for my time in the service. When it comes to Veterans Day, I think of all the life-long friends I made in the military. The day is a reminder of all the times, good and bad, we spent together. This is the first Veterans Day that I won’t be around most of the people I served with. While it will be hard not celebrating with them, the Princeton veteran community has been so welcoming to me. I’m becoming great friends with the other veterans on campus and they have been an invaluable resource to me and my family since our move to Princeton. The students at Princeton have been amazing as well. Everyone seems genuinely interested when they find out I’m a veteran and are eager to have conversations about my time in the military. I look forward to spending another four years in a place where I can make more lasting friendships.
Christopher Wilson '21
Veterans Day allows me to reflect on those who have served or are currently serving. It was the sacrifice we made to ensure freedom for our country. Not only is it a sacrifice, but a commitment to service. While enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, I was able to work with some talented men and women who gave up milestones to serve our country. Whether it was a simple anniversary or the birth of a new child, many of us had orders to follow and missing these milestones was part of the job. Veterans Day is also about family. It is our families who supported us through trainings, deployments and sadness when news broke of a fallen hero who died while serving. Our loved ones ensured our success on the field or at home.
This day also serves as a reminder that I am not who I am today without the strict discipline bestowed on me from utilizing the core values of the Marine Corps; honor, courage and commitment. It is these important values that have let me transition from boots to books and never forget my roots as a Marine before becoming a Tiger. It also gives me the strength to represent the Marine Corps at Princeton and give my best effort. Finally, Veterans Day allows us to recognize our military for all their hard work and dedication. It also reminds us that our great country would not be standing if not for those who have signed their life away to fight and serve in what they believe in the most – the United States of America.