Meet Kathryn Mitchell, TRWB DMV. “I am better because of you, and I hope to be better for you.”
The Year of the Eagle I always used to think that my spirit animal was a puppy. Thanks to our nation’s veterans, I now know for certain that it is an eagle.
This past year, I picked my whole life up and moved it to Washington, DC to work for Congress. My college roommates and I all moved to different corners of the country, I left my loving and supportive family in Ohio, and I found myself moving into a house I found, and now love, on Craiglist (my new roommates are lovely and are not murderers, don’t worry). I knew that I was moving far away from some very special people, but I was optimistic that I would make new friends in a new city.
I got lucky. What I found instead was a powerful community of veterans and civilians, meaningful connections with those who have served, and a renewed love for my country.
While I was finishing up my Master’s degree in political science, I became passively disenchanted with these United States and fell out of love with the country I was so fortunate to have grown up in. I felt disenfranchised from my country because I found that I didn’t quite understand it anymore. I questioned our role as a global power, I considered our foreign and domestic policies with way more than a single grain of salt, and I felt intimidated in the presence of those in uniform.
However, while I still consider our policies carefully and philosophize on our global role, as I believe all thoughtful citizens should do, I am no longer intimidated by those who serve our nation. The connections I have made with our veterans through organizations such as Team Red, White, and Blue have renewed my love for America, as I have learned that their actions are selfless, sacrificial, and for nothing but their love of country. It is sometimes hard for me to understand the intensity of that comradery, but this community of veterans invites me to share that value with them, and for that, I am a thankful, reflective, better person.
Alongside tens of thousands of veterans and civilians alike, this year I have completed marathons, half-marathons, triathlons, and fun runs, not to mention the 550+ miles I’ve ran in between. I’ve ran with Anna Runs America and held Old Glory on her last day across the country in the Old Glory Coast to Coast Relay. I have taken on leadership roles within my community as well as followed in the footsteps of those greater and braver than I. Thanks to the influence of our veterans, I am stronger, faster, and more resilient.
But more than that, I have been taught that veterans are the spine of our nation, and that civilians are critical to their reintegration into civilian life. It is vital that these counterparts work hand in hand, whether it is to solve our nation’s most pressing issues or carry our flag across a finish line. Together, veterans and civilians can help the American people fall back in love with their country.
I like to think of 2014 as the year of the eagle. Just as the military pledges to leave no soldier behind on the battlefield, we must leave no veteran behind when they return home. Thank you to the veterans who inspire me every single day, thank you to those who have taken me under their wing, and thank you to those within this community who believe in me, as well as push me to believe in myself. I am better because of you, and I hope to be better for you.
Team Red, White, & Blue, DMV
Outdoor Events Coordinator and DC Geographic Leader