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Five birthdays, two Christmases, six recitals, and hundreds of missed goodnight hugs and kisses.
These are only some of the events for which my father was absent during my life. However, I feel no bitterness because I am more proud of him than anything else. While I was at home in America enjoying all of her luxuries and freedom, my father was deployed overseas protecting our way of life. His dedicated service has impacted many aspects of my daily life.
I was devastated every time my father would deploy. The house was lonely without my father. By the time of his deployment to Afghanistan during my senior year, I decided to cope with this hardship differently. I realized that life didn't stop when he was gone and that, just as my father was serving for the better of society, I should try to give back to America on the homefront.
I got involved in the community, performing many projects for the troops and, ultimately, I was honored to be named the 2011 Air Force Child of the Year and served as a spokesperson for Military Kids Connect. I understood I was representing over 200,000 military children and that I had a responsibility to be a role model for the military community.
After my high school career, I decided to follow the public service path in college. I got involved in service programs, but soon realized that I had another calling. This was my first time away from the military community. I was surrounded by people from around the world that openly hated the U.S. military. This broke my heart, and I realized that I had to change this enigma.
As I interacted with my colleagues, I realized they didn't have the same exposure to the military as me. After all, the military makes up about one percent of the country — it's not going to be a reality to most people, especially when the war isn't taking place in their own backyard.
To counter this, I held projects that supported our military. In one event, I brought a military panel to campus in which students could discuss topics with service members. Many students were skeptical at first, but they ended up staying at the event overtime and shook hands with the panel afterwards. It's still dubbed by students as the best event of 2011.
Currently, I am working on my political science major. I chose this major because I knew it came down to politics on whether or not I get to see my dad on Christmas. I understand why he couldn't be there in the past and I am very proud of the troops, but I know how difficult war can be on both sides of the fight.
I want to do my part and prevent that; I want to help lead the world to peace. My father has dedicated the majority of his life to protecting the world, and I can only hope I can do the same.