Monday, July 4

Happy Birthday, USA!

Ahhh, 4th of July! One of my favorite holidays of the year, today holds a special place in my heart. You may remember back in March that I made brief mention of my previous military service. Though I usually don't reveal much about the experience, today it seems appropriate to give you a glimpse of that piece of me.

I don't know how or where I developed my deep love of America, but that desire propelled me to wear a uniform for the first 12 formative years of my adult life.
college graduation, c/o 1999

My college experience was offbeat for sure. Instead of going to Ohio State or Duke, I accepted an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. I majored in political science, joined the cheerleading squad, and was voted captain of the gymnastics team. If it weren't for all those uniforms and alarm bells sounding each hour of the day, it'd be just like real college. At least, that's what I tell myself!

plebe summer

hanging with the girls

gymnastics team national competition

yes, the girls are all midshipmen!

road trip to Army/Navy football game

From Annapolis, I went on to Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. This was my chance to decompress and have a more normal college experience. No class on Fridays, taking coursework that only focused on your major...and unlike Annapolis, there were thankfully no physics, calculus, chemistry, or engineering requirements for this humanities grad! We were on an accelerated program and after a one-year thesis curriculum I earned my M.A. in National Security Affairs in Middle Eastern Studies.

old school photo, before there was digital - LOL

The time I spent in the military was richly rewarding, with life experiences and opportunities unmatched in my civilian life. I've lived on both coasts and made 10 military household moves, road tripping back and forth across the country from Maryland... to California... to Florida... to California... to Viriginia... to Florida... to Washington state... to D.C.

In 2003 and again in 2004, I deployed to the Middle East.
naval intelligence officer, P3 squadron

Captain's airwing staff

Although I did not last a 20-year career, I'm proud of the time I served. All of the patriotic holidays remind me of the brave men and women who volunteer to go to the front lines and defend the freedom we enjoy as Americans.

Take a moment today and say thanks to those you know still serving in uniform. I asked my friends via Facebook why they thought America was great. I'll leave you with their thoughts, and feel free to add a comment and keep the list growing. Happy birthday, USA!

Courtney - bonfires and communities

Bella - possibly the best BBQ places in the world, large foodie population, awesome regional personalities and cultures

Mike - grassroots anything, hamburgers, national parks

Bev - freedom!

Yo - choices, diversity, and bleeding hearts

Mike (round 2!) - innovation, baseball, rock and roll

Bella (round 2!) - some of the coolest architecture/monuments in North America [ed. Hoover Dam and Mount Rushmore]

Amanda - Ben & Jerry's, Steve Jobs, interstate highway system, whole foods, sesame street, ansel adams, emily dickinson, the daily show, glee, groupon, disney world, calories on the starbucks menu, the bill of rights, and duct tape

Mike (round 3!) - Bob Dylan, Mark Twain, Woody Guthrie, CBGB's and OMFUG, Saturday Night Live, Max's Kansas City, Caddyshack, Hollywood


  1. Ah how interesting! I love America, happy birthday!
    I love it because well it's hard to explain but I just have that American Dream perception.

  2. lol I think this may be my first time ever being quoted! Nicely done :D Happy Bday USA!

  3. Wow, I am so blown away. I'm so totally impressed! Wow!

  4. Love this post! I'm a little late catching up, but Happy b-day USA :)