When most people hear the words “call of duty,” they think of the popular video game where a player is able to immerse themselves in whatever location they choose, and come back home at will, simply by turning off the system. Most people don’t think of the many active duty service members who have answered a different call of duty, and haven’t seen their family, friends, or home in months and sometimes, years. It doesn’t occur to them that reservists are plucked from their lives, every day, to fight for the rights that all Americans deserve and enjoy. They can’t see that a single tweet may have the power to deploy warships, ready warplanes, or activate millions of reservists. For some people, the words are just a game. For servicemen and women, the words mean not being able to kiss our children goodnight, lay in bed beside our significant other, see our baby’s first steps, hear their first words, and often, coming home after months away to a child that doesn’t remember who we are. For some military members, it also means making the ultimate sacrifice.
My name is Thereasa Black and I am a Naval Reservist. Like many who serve in the reserve armed forces, you probably don’t know me because of my military service, but you might know me as a Congressional Candidate for the 4th District of Maryland. In August, I received a call to duty and was informed that I was being mobilized for a yearlong deployment in a combat zone. I received my official orders last week. This means that I will be going on my 4th deployment, missing my little girl’s second and third birthdays, ending my 2018 Congressional campaign, and letting down millions of Americans whose rights I was ready to defend in Congress.
Why do we serve if it’s so difficult? I can’t speak for everyone else, but I can tell you why I do. I do it because we ALL fall into the class of We The People, and I believe that we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights. I am willing to give up all that I love and cherish, so that the promises of America can be fulfilled to all of the people who fall under its protection, from the Puerto Rican living without power to the Californian who lost their home as a result of wildfires, and everybody in between. Enemies of the United States don’t care whether you have quality healthcare, whether you can afford to go to college without drowning in debt, whether you fear that your son might be killed because he resisted arrest, or whether minimum wage will allow you to take care of yourself and your family. They’ll kill you regardless of whether you identify as transgender, entered America without legal documentation, or live in a home that sits on multiple acres. We cannot be like the enemy.
We are a nation of people who have promised to stand united, be indivisible, and demand the rights that were promised to us. Yet we have become divided, among political party lines, resulting in condemnation of the media and those who exercise their rights of free speech, and a governing body working to do what’s best for the few instead of the many. We have largely forgotten that America is THE PEOPLE and if the people fail, so too, will America. We the people must look out for each other and demand that our government do the same. Otherwise, what are service members sacrificing and fighting to preserve?
I’m sorry that I must end my campaign that never had the opportunity to truly begin, but please know that I’ve paused this specific battle in order to go abroad and fight in a different way to ensure that we the people maintain the ability to exercise the rights guaranteed to us in the Constitution.
I leave you with this last thought. Today you might ask yourself, “Why should I have to give up the money that I earned so that a stranger can have a better life?” It would benefit us all if we’d remember that millions of service members have died, given up their families, lost their marriages, and sacrificed their futures so that strangers could have a better life. So perhaps the better question is, “How much am I willing to give up, in order to honor those who are risking and have sacrificed their lives, so that I, a stranger, can have a better life?” No one knows for sure what tomorrow will bring, but I pray that it brings a truly united America where “liberty and justice for all” is more than just a line in our pledge of allegiance.
With that, I bid you farewell, our country is calling, and I’ll never hesitate to answer that call of duty.
Thereasa Black is a single mom, a Naval officer, a law school graduate, and a former candidate for Maryland’s 4th Congressional District who has dedicated her life to fighting for justice for those without a voice.
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