May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

Written by derekherrera

Derek USNA Commissioning and Graduation 2006 @2x

Today marks eight years since I took the oath to serve my country as a Marine Officer.  People often used to tell me that a ceremony like a graduation or commissioning would not change the person I was.  I agree with this statement and don’t think that a commissioning ceremony changed anything that was central to my character.  What this ceremony did change for me was the relevance of what I was required to do.  I was no longer a student (focused primarily on preparing myself for service), and the decisions and choices I would make from that day forward would impact my life for years to come.  It has taken me a long time to truly understand what that moment would mean to me and I believe that it was the burden of responsibility that I felt more than anything else.  This may sound overwhelming, and for a split second it felt that way, but then I felt at peace.  I remember this feeling and can say that it was similar to the way I would feel before I confronted any great challenge, whether it was on the playing field, the boxing ring, or any patrol I led, but was different in the fact that I had no idea when this challenge would end.  What I experienced that day was a rite of passage, a coming of age, and a discrete change in awareness.  In hindsight, I understand much more clearly now why that day is worth celebrating and why the rite of passage is so special.

The past few weeks have been a lot of fun.  The MARSOC Foundation Fundraiser in Scottsdale, AZ was very successful.  It was great to catch with the entire MARSOC Foundation crew in Arizona, and we even had a new celebrity join the show.  Steven Seagal came out to show his support and chatted with us for a really long time about MARSOC and the MARSOC Foundation.

I went from Arizona to Bethesda, MD for a few days to participate in a study for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  I don’t have TBI but, after a lengthy interview, they said they wanted me to participate in the study so I obliged.  I also got to visit briefly with family and friends there.

World Trade Center Goldman Sachs @2x

Last week I had the opportunity to travel to New York City and spend a week there attending two business conferences.  I attended BevNet Live and TechStars Patriot Boot Camp.  They both were incredible experiences and I really enjoyed spending time in NYC.  The only thing I didn’t enjoy about NYC is that I have to take elevators to get down to the Subway.  I don’t mind that it takes me a bit longer to get in and out of the station, but every elevator I took smelled of a distinct odor.  There was only one elevator I took that didn’t smell like this, it smelled like some kind of fish.  Pretty much everything about my experience in the city was great, except for the city smells.  I don’t know when I will get to go back to NYC but I definitely look forward to it.  The TechStars PBC was held at Goldman Sachs, right across the street from the World Trade Center.  This was the first time I was able to visit the memorial there and left inspired.

Unfortunately, while I was in NYC our neighborhood was evacuated because of the wildfires.  Luckily it was only for a day and no homes in our neighborhood were damaged.

Camp Pendleton Wild Fire @2x

Lastly, today is Memorial Day.  Today is a day to remember anyone you’ve lost.  This is not meant to be a day of sorrow though.  One of my friends recently pointed out:

If you’ve lost friends and family chances are they would want you to rage and enjoy yourself. Valhalla is raising hell, so should you. Everyone be safe and tip a glass to the family.

I couldn’t agree more.  Happy Memorial Day.