15 years old
Anderson High School
Staying Positive Through the Negative
Crawling alone in the humidity of a foreign land with the weight of his backpack crushing down on him, Edward Hazlett had to stop for food. He scavenged the grounds of the current enemy, Vietnam, for insects, small animals, and any food source available. Being sent down as a recon, he had to locate where the enemy was positioned… without being noticed. Edward Hazlett was an amazing man and an amazing grandfather who had to fight in a war he knew nothing about; he was drafted for The Vietnam War in 1960… at twenty years old. My grandpa displayed the downsides to war, physically and psychologically. From being shot in the hip, to later being diagnosed with dementia, he had suffered greatly. Given this, I tend to have a negative outlook on wars and the effects it has on the people fighting in them. I get so caught up in the negativity of life that I forget to see the positivity and fulfilling moments. Veterans helped me to look at life from a different perspective, a positive one.
An important lesson I learned from listening to Veterans’ war stories: to be forever grateful. My dad has been obsessed with cars, coins, and stamps for his whole life; he is a bit like his father, Edward. Ever since I can remember, our family has gone to these car, coin, and stamp shows, to support my dad’s growing obsession. Going to these shows as a kid I realized my brother and I were typically the only children there. We would venture around and meet new people, usually Veterans. These people would tell us their life stories. I recall one particular story that has stuck with me, the story of survival. I remember this man who would talk to my brother and me about his adventures in the military and how every day was a new fight, a new mission, a new adventure. Listening to these war stories inspired me to realize how thankful I should be for the life I have today. Through all of the hardships Veterans go through, not one of them ever regretted being a Veteran, they were proud of what they did to help others. Listening and understanding these men and women formed a type of respect for strangers, for I do not know the battles they are dealing with.
The second lesson I have learned from Veterans: sacrifice is needed in life to live it to the fullest extent. Whether it is sacrificing to eat that pizza, or it is sacrificing all that you own, we make sacrifices every day. Moving to Cincinnati five years ago was an important sacrifice my family had to make, but it had to be done for the greater good of my family. Veterans make a particular sacrifice that intrigues me, they surrender all of their pain and suffering for the greater good of the country. Making sacrifices this immense are harder than they sound. My grandfather, for example, had to leave his family to go to a foreign land filled with danger and uncertainty. Fighting in a war that only resulted in him risking his body, mind, and spirit. His body, with being shot in the hip. His mind, developing dementia. And his spirit, being ultimately damaged with the trauma of war. With all of these terrible situations he was put through, one thought never left his mind: he was a Veteran, and proud. These situations formed Edward Hazlett into the great man he was, a man who seemed to have gone through it all with a big smile on his face, knowing he lived his life to the fullest extent.
The third and final lesson I have discovered from Veterans is to respect others. Respecting others sounds easy to do, but too many times I have caught myself being quick to judge. After hearing Veteran’s stories of all that they have gone through, I fully understand why it is so important for us to appreciate them. I could never imagine myself being all alone in a foreign land just waiting to be killed off by the enemy or fighting for my life daily. I have never walked a day in another person’s shoes so I have no right in judging them, for all I know they could be a Veteran! Respecting others gives perspective on how the world does not revolve around me or you, we are all on this Earth together.
Through these lessons of gratefulness, sacrifice, and respect, I have gained a positive outlook on life with the help of Veterans. Veterans help make our world a better place even if it means to sacrifice a bit of theirs in return. Given this, we need to find a way to assist the Veterans, all the Veterans, including the ones homeless, the ones in the spotlight, or the ones in a nursing home. We cannot forget all that they sacrificed for the greater good. Everyone has their own stories, but by looking at life through a different lens, the sun shines brighter, the grass grows greener, and each day gets better.