On Thursday, my ERT team in Eminence, MO headed down to Winona to grab a bite to eat and enjoy music at Flossie’s, a local dive that we have learned to love over the past several years. There we met up with the crew working out at Peck Ranch and a NCCC team based out of Denver that is working in the Mark Twain National Forest.
One of the Corps Members from the NCCC team, Sun 6, was a member of FEMA Corps who served out of Vicksburg, MS with me a year ago. While she was not a member of my team during our term of service, she was well-loved and known by all, my team included.
Like most days, I was wearing my ERT “Fire” shirt, but underneath I had on my NCCC long sleeve greys. I made a comment at the table, and on social media accounts later that night, that went something like: “Underneath my ERT uniform, I still wear my NCCC ‘A’.”
I’ve been thinking about that simple comment ever since. No matter how much flack I get for being an “N-Trip” or partaking in the adventure that was the inaugural year of FEMA Corps, that is part of who I am. Nothing can change that. Even if it could, I wouldn’t allow it.
Our experiences shape us. If I hadn’t spent my summers volunteering at Catholic Heart Work Camp or journeying to camp with Young Life, experiencing missions trips to Honduras, Uganda, or aboard the M/V Africa Mercy, or spending a year in service with NCCC and FEMA Corps or the year between at Ft. Campbell, KY as a wildfire suppression technician, I would not be who I am today. If I hadn’t poured out my heart to those that I have loved, supported friends in both their darkest moments and through the joys of the journey, or walked away and cut ties with those I once knew, I would be a different man today.
We are all that we have experienced. The good. The bad. And the Ugly. And, as I told a friend the other day, many times we will look back and realize how beautiful those moments truly were. They have made us who we are, and though many of us hide from them, try to forget them, or block them out, I have chosen to embrace them.
Just a thought…
God Bless and PEACE