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Veteran’s Day as Americans

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Veterans Day Tribute, Kirk Havens

Veterans Day Tribute, Kirk Havens

Veterans Day Tribute, Kirk Havens

Nataly Panczyk, Reporter

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Take a step back and think about where you’re standing right now. The building you’re in, the device you’re reading this on, how you got here, the clothes you’re wearing— things you’ve probably taken for granted. Every single aspect of this very situation exists because thousands of men and women across history have fought for it. That’s the quintessential aspect of being an American, and what Kirk Havens, a member of the United States Special Forces Unit, has discovered in his 14 years of service in countries that are most definitely not America.

That’s the quintessential aspect of being an American, and what Kirk Havens, a member of the United States Special Forces Unit, has discovered in his 14 years of service in countries that are most definitely not America.

“My appreciation for being an American changed,” Havens said. “Once you’re exposed to other governments, other ways of life, other cultures, and you see some of the advantages you have as an American, some of the opportunities that you have, you become extremely grateful to be able to grow up as an American.”

The opportunities Havens is talking about range from strictly economic, to cultural, to social and gender equality issues, like women having the right to drive, vote, or go out in public unescorted. It’s important to reflect and be grateful for the opportunities we so often assume are universal, but that we are actually so fortunate to have as Americans.

Recognizing the differences between more developed countries like the U.S and lesser developed nations like Afghanistan is something that not every American can do. This is the where Havens says the most important part of the job comes in: the agility of mind and body.

“They’re looking for somebody who’s not just strong in body, but strong in mind as well,” Havens said. “You’re expected to be able to live in these very ambiguous situations where you’re not given a lot of direction, but you’re given a mission to accomplish. And you have to be able to plan, adapt, and change to different cultures, different scenarios, constantly with really just not a lot of support.”

Being a Green Beret isn’t just about defeating the enemy. It requires a strategic method to doing so. Havens described a variety of situations that he had to work through while overseas, and they were anything but straightforward. Particularly challenging to adapt to, he mentioned, was the culture and religion in the Middle East. 

“I think that there really is no bigger honor than being able to do something that’s bigger than yourself,” ”

— Kirk Havens

Even when timeliness could’ve meant the difference between life and death, Havens described having to stop in the middle of a mission to allow some of the Middle Eastern passengers to pray. He explained how you have to understand and respect their practices, despite your own frustration and anxiety, because thinking long term, their gratitude and respect for you, as a result, will be invaluable when you need it later on.

Even when timeliness could’ve meant the difference between life and death, Havens described having to stop in the middle of a mission to allow some of the Middle Eastern passengers to pray. He explained how you have to understand and respect their practices, despite your own frustration and anxiety, because thinking long term, their gratitude and respect for you, as a result, will be invaluable when you need it later on.

Havens also pointed out was that the perception of the military hasn’t changed as much as its demographics have. He said that it was actually quite uncommon to find someone in the U.S. military that didn’t have a college education. At one point, he even served alongside two lawyers. The army shouldn’t be seen as a worst-case-scenario for high school dropouts anymore, and it’s actually very competitive to get in.

Havens made one recommendation to current high school students interested in getting involved in the program; research the military program that you’re looking at, so you know what you’re getting yourself into. Most importantly, however, is to recognize one overarching concept that is so prevalent in the military and what Havens is most thankful for from his years of service:

At one point, he even served alongside two lawyers. The army shouldn’t be seen as a worst-case-scenario for high school dropouts anymore, and it’s actually very competitive to get in. Havens made one recommendation to current high school students interested in getting involved in the program; research the military program that you’re looking at, so you know what you’re getting yourself into. Most importantly, however, is to recognize one overarching concept that is so prevalent in the military and what Havens is most thankful for from his years of service:

Havens made one recommendation to current high school students interested in getting involved in the program; research the military program that you’re looking at, so you know what you’re getting yourself into. Most importantly, however, is to recognize one overarching concept that is so prevalent in the military and what Havens is most thankful for from his years of service.

“I think that there really is no bigger honor than being able to do something that’s bigger than yourself,” Havens said.

And that is something that we should all be thankful for this Veteran’s Day— to be part of something that is bigger than ourselves and to commemorate those who put their lives on the line for our individual and communal liberties every day.

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