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To My Children: Why I Joined the U.S. Navy

Editor's Note: On this "Navy Day," Primerrily shares with you a letter which our co-founder's husband Lieutenant Noah Riner wrote to their children. In it he explains why he joined the U.S. Navy, how his grandfather inspired him, and three old-fashioned values he holds dear.

To My Children,

Today is Navy Day, a celebration of U.S. Navy traditions first organized in 1922 and set to occur each year on October 27 to honor the birthday of President Theodore Roosevelt. He was adventurous, brave, and loved exploring the outdoors – and so did his kids. One of his children even brought a pony into the White House when he lived there! President Roosevelt was convinced that naval strength was the best way to make everyone else in the world respect America, so he sent a fleet (that’s a Navy word for “group”) of ships in 1907 on a journey around the world to prove America was powerful and to convince other countries to leave us alone.

Why did I join the Navy? I joined the Navy because my granddad did the same 71 years before me. He joined because a long time ago, Japan was not America’s friend.

The Japanese attacked a place in America called Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

My granddad wanted to help keep America safe so he joined the Navy the very next day. He became a pilot, flying an airplane called the PV-1 Ventura. His job was to fly over the Pacific Ocean – that’s the biggest ocean in the world – bombing enemy fortifications as the United States worked to defeat Japan and protect our freedom. We exercised strength to achieve peace. Today, Japan is one of America’s allies.

Granddad didn’t have to join the Navy, but after the U.S. was attacked, he felt he had a duty to serve directly, which is a way of saying he had a deep feeling that it was the right thing to do. Before he joined the Navy, his job was mining bauxite, a special type of rock from which people make aluminum, a useful metal for making many things. Mining was important in helping defend our country, which meant my granddad wasn’t required to become a part of the military, the way most men were. However, he wanted to join the Navy because he wanted to live out an American tradition of brave people doing difficult things, and stepping forward to protect our homeland in times of danger. This is called honor. He was also willing to give up his life and his plans for the future so that everyone in America could be safe. That’s called sacrifice.

Duty, Honor, and Sacrifice are old-fashioned values that mean a lot to me, too. I learned a lot about them from my granddad, and I hope you can learn about them from me. I hope to be successful in lots of ways, but most of all, I hope to live an honorable life that I will be proud of when I become an old man. To love my family, serve my God, be loyal to my friends, make a positive impact on the world, help take care of the poor, and answer when duty calls.

Sadly, on September 11, 2001 something very similar happened to that which occurred on December 7, 1941. I was a senior in high school on that day we now call 9/11. Terrorists – bad people who want to hurt America because they don’t like our freedoms –

attacked America in New York City, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. I watched on TV as buildings burned, and heroes like police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and everyday citizens rushed to help. I wanted to be one of the helpers.

My path into the Navy was not direct from there, but the events of 9/11 made me feel like I needed to join, to show duty, honor and sacrifice the way my granddad did when America needed him. How could I enjoy the amazing blessings of living in the greatest country on earth and not step forward to do my part to help? Years after 9/11, I finally joined the Navy, put on its uniform, and raised my right hand to take an oath (that means to make a serious promise) that military officers take. Here’s what I said – and what my grandpa said 71 years earlier:

I, Noah Riner, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the

United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and

allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation

or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office

on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

I do my best to fulfill this promise – as do over two million other volunteers who serve in the active and reserve components of the U.S. military. I love you, I love this country, and I want it to continue to be the best place to live as you grow up. One way I do that is by being your dad. Another way I do that is serving in the U.S. Navy. I am grateful I get to do both.




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