Appreciating the American Dream

By: JoHanna Martinez
Nov 11, 2014 9:10 AM ET

Appreciating the American Dream

Today, I join my family, my Marine family, and my AT&T family to send a very important message to those who have served our country in the military: thank you for your dedication, courage and sacrifice.

My family ancestry is Native American, Spanish and Mexican and most importantly, American. As second generation Americans, my parents experienced segregation firsthand and were directly affected by the Civil Rights Movement. I lived in San Antonio, a city where people migrated to find better lives for their families. My parents’ experiences and the respect for America I saw in my community set the foundation for my appreciation of education, freedom and opportunity.

My humble beginning was built on a foundation of strong work ethic, appreciation and “The American Dream.” I didn’t consider being “American” as a right, as much as I did a privilege. Like many other Americans, I wanted to express my gratitude and pride. There are many ways to do this, whether it is saying the pledge of allegiance, hanging an American flag by your front door, voting or sending care packages to troops overseas. I chose to join the military.

I remember being 12 years old when I told my mom that I was going to be a Marine. I’m sure she didn’t believe me. I was a cheerleader from the time I was 6 so combat boots seemed pretty farfetched but I knew what I wanted. I have many uncles and cousins as well as an aunt who served in the military and I wanted to follow in their boot steps.

When I enlisted the summer before my senior year, I was only 17 years old and my mom had to sign for me. My uncle was my recruiter and I couldn’t have been more proud and excited for the journey that awaited. I left for boot camp one month after graduating from high school and then off I went on one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

I can’t articulate what being a Marine has meant to me, specifically a woman in the Marines. It’s an accomplishment to be part of America’s most elite organization. The brotherhood, comradery and sacrifice is the unspoken blood line that runs through every Marine and serviceman and woman. As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, my cousin SSgt Gene Ramirez lost his life in Fallujah 10 years ago yesterday. It was my honor to participate in his memorial service this year and continue to honor and appreciate his ultimate sacrifice and the sacrifices of all of our service men and women. Thank you.

To learn more about how AT&T Support Our Troops, visit