I have always been fascinated listening to stories from veterans, starting as a youngster. My father was a Korean War 1st Division Marine, one uncle was a Korean War Army Ranger (8th Ranger Company) and another uncle a Marine with the 3rd Marine Division, who landed on Iwo Jima. Each told their stories in different ways, served in different capacities and were distinctly changed by their experiences.
From these, I learned to pay attention to adults as I grew up, when I heard them talking about their military experiences. From combat, to rear echelon support, to service during peacetime, each story was unique. And yet for all this, eventually it dawned on me there were some common bonds among all these men (I did not meet, or at least hear, any female veterans and their stories). The strongest tie between them all was their pride in service. It seemed to me they all sat a little straighter. Talked a little clearer and their eyes shone brighter. Then, almost to a man, even those who lost fellow comrades in combat, they would do it all over again given the choice.