Major Robert Root has been serving in the United States Army for 11 years and trained for two years to be a part of the Army Special Forces. He visited family in the Salem area at least once a year while growing up, and said his childhood memories closely resemble his life today.
"Growing up on the farm (my family and I) were always in the woods with water guns running around and shooting each other, and now I'm kind of doing the same thing as an adult," Major Root said.
Major Root explained that the military has offered him many opportunities including one to mature through responsibility for the lives of his fellow soldiers.
"I think the biggest benefit is you really start learning how to interact with people. There are a lot of jobs where you might do the same, but when you are physically responsible for the welfare of other people, I think you have a different experience through interacting with them and their families. You're responsible for getting them food and water and making sure they're going to be alive when you come back from doing stuff," Major Root said.
It is easy for those not in the realm of military life to forget the daily sacrifices soldiers make just in doing their jobs. They are away from families, they work diligently and efficiently in less than favorable conditions and all with an attitude of brotherhood and honor.
While some might think of being uprooted every other year as a burden, Major Root said that every mission for him, his wife and their two boys, Sterling, 2, and Robbie, 4, is a new experience and chance to see the world.
"My experience to go into special forces has been very significant for my wife and I. Because of what I do now, I get to see a different part of the world at a different level. Every time I deploy, I work closely with Iraqis, Afghanis, the British, the French and other military services from all sorts of different countries and they all have a different view on life and they all approach things totally different from country to country," Major Root said.
Through their missions soldiers impact our daily lives in an indirect way that is often taken for granted. Memorial Day is a way for all civilians and military members to remember the sacrifice and impact of American soldiers and the missions they carry out on a daily basis.
Major Root said that he feels as if his job and the jobs of all soldiers are having a political and moral impact on the world today, especially in these times of war.
"I think I have an impact. I think the military as a whole does right now, but we are working closely with Afghani and Iraqi leaders and training them on their warfare functions. We're also spending weekends with them and off time with them and they're getting to know us and a lot of values we have as Americans. Whether or not they take those values and use them, they're still getting to see that Americans are not necessarily the devils of the west," Major Root explained.
This Memorial Day weekend many soldiers will be absent from their families in life-threatening situations they handle with pride. Those soldiers can be content in knowing that, here at home, we are awaiting their return and celebrating their service.