I don’t care about awards. I don’t care about trophies, plaques, or certificates. It’s fun to go out and bust your buddies for what you have and they don’t *cough-Dan check out my German Armed Forces Proficency Badge* but at the end of the day, it’s a ribbon, or a coin or a plaque that sits on a wall or a rack and slowly wastes away.
Some people are in it for the awards; they want to be known, and they want to display their accomplishments; different strokes for different folks. But awards are trivial, material things. Very few material things hold a lot of meaning. Most we can do without.
If you don’t know what I mean, go live out of a backpack for a few weeks and you realize how much you really need in life.
There is something though, that is better than any reward I’ve received.
As I wrap up my time in Michigan, I did receive a small award for my time here. Coins in the military have been a long-standing tradition, and are still a very cool thing to this day. But the real award I got wasn’t a certificate or a coin; it was from the people I worked with.
It was at 0200 when my eyes were bleeding from reading another training document and working with QC’ing. It was grabbing a co-worker a coffee when they didn’t ask for it, but surely needed it. It was asking what I could do to help, and doing quality work when someone wasn’t able to delegate themselves.
The real reward was that person standing next to you, ready to take on the next task and a silent acknowledgement of “we are in this together, let’s get it done.”
And at the culmination, the person I worked for turned around and said “Sir, you’re good people.”
A simple phrase, but one that carries more meaning and recognition than any material thing.
The acknowledgment of not being a good soldier or officer, but being a good human being. And I would much rather have those who matter realize the good people, as opposed to those who don’t matter recognize me.
When it’s all said and done, although grim, I like to think of my eulogy sometimes and what someone would say. And at that eulogy, they don’t remember awards, they remember the man.