Medals? I earned a few. The Southwest Asia Service Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Air Force Good Conduct Medal, and a few other ribbons are mixed in there as well.
It's been more than 12 years since I left the Air Force, and I really haven't given my time in service a second thought. Don't get me wrong. My Air Force days helped form the person I am today.
Last Sunday, I covered the Veterans Day Ceremony at Camp Nelson National Cemetery. While doing so, I watched a couple of people mill around the headstones.
I saw the look in their eyes. It's kind of hard to explain - pride mixed with sadness.
As I've gotten older, I've come to realize the importance of my service.
I come from a military family.
My dad made a career out of the U.S. Army, as did my older brother who retired just a few years ago.
My oldest brother served in the U.S. Navy.
Both my grandfathers served; as did several uncles and cousins.
A few weeks ago the Journal published its annual Veterans Day special section. I had the opportunity to interview four Nicholasville firefighters who've been to Iraq and Kuwait as members of the National Guard.
After the interview, we all talked about our times in the service, though I must admit, I found their stories much more interesting than my own.
To be clichÃ©, it's a fraternity among those who went before and came after me.
My sports editor, Casey Castle, is also an Air Force veteran. Casey has been at the paper for almost four months, and from time to time, he and I find ourselves talking about things that happened to us in basic training, and the similarities of our time in the service.
While I was editor of the Pikeville paper, I got to know the circulation director real well. His name is John Spears. He, too, spent a number of years as an Army Ranger. During our many talks about our service time, there was a feeling of pride and respect between the both of us.
As a veteran, I pay attention to stories of the America's military men and women who have died overseas. I feel for them and their families.
As a veteran, I pay attention to stories of those in the military who have fled to Canada, saying the war in wrong. Those people make me sick.
As a veteran, I'm also disturbed when I attend high school ballgames and see the lack of respect when the national anthem is being played.
It's because of the sacrifices of veterans throughout history that we have the freedom to spend our time playing games.
I'm going to close with a quote I took from Chris Campbell, one of the firefighters I interviewed for the Veterans Day special section.
"Everybody here (in America) has the right to voice their opinion," Campbell said. "I just happened to have earned my right. I look at it that way. There's nobody more qualified to speak their mind than a veteran."