Perhaps readers have noticed our coverage of Veterans Day by the time they reached this point in the paper. This happened by design, as, I’ll admit, I’m decidedly biased.
You see, Veterans Day is one of my favorite holidays, which is saying something, considering I don’t get off work and I don’t often get home to visit with family. But to me it doesn’t matter, the meaning is deep and the same whether or not I get up for work.
Which made it all the more surprising when I received a call this week saying Veterans Day hadn’t received the coverage it deserved in these pages. Normally I wouldn’t give such a call the time of day, especially considering I was hung up on for the first time by someone presumably post-puberty and the parade hadn’t actually happened yet, but it was difficult not to take the call a little bit personal.
Because, for me, the holiday has always been a family affair.
Growing up, my grandfather would regale my brother and I with stories from World War II and the Korean War. Pop, as we called him, knew we had short attention spans at such young ages, so he focused on the lighter aspects of war. He served in both the European and Pacific theaters in WWII, and the Pacific was the focus of most of his stories. Sharks, large snakes, scorpions and some of his buddies dominated the stories he told us, many of which I still remember despite the number of years it’s been since I heard them.
By all accounts Pop was a great soldier, and while he didn’t talk about the awards he won or the tragic events he likely witnessed, he was always a hero in my young eyes. He has since passed away, but on Veterans Day I take the time to remember him and appreciate the great sacrifices he made for the freedoms I enjoy today.
Pop passed his legacy onto his sons. Fiercely patriotic, my father and uncle also served in the armed forces or the Navy and Air Force, respectively. Dad joined up prior to being drafted during Vietnam. He did not end up in an active war zone, and he always credited his “favorite president,” Richard Nixon, for that stroke of good luck. My uncle also avoided a hot zone, but both served admirably.
The next generation remained the same. My older brother also joined the Air Force a number of years ago. He stayed in for a few years before being honorably disharged, and his wife remains in service for the Pentagon.
My younger brother is a Marine. Due to the fact we’re 13 months apart, I’ve witnessed his service up close and personal, and I could not be more proud of what he’s accomplished as a service member.
He signed on the dotted line while still in high school, and he’s been in the reserves for more than three years at this point, including an overseas deployment to Africa. Once a month he attends “drill” and is one of hundreds of thousands of young Americans ready to defend this country at the drop of a hat.
Which leads me to my point, as if that was yet unclear. For me, Veterans Day is personal. I know many others feel the same way, and I feel honored to have family members so willing to put their necks on the line for the country we love.
And I’m even more proud to be a part of a nation that so values freedom – the fact we voted last week was more than enough evidence for me – and the men and women that make this possible.
So, regardless of negative phone calls, thank you veterans! Your sacrifices help make this country great.
Lastly, I’d like to share a poem passed onto me by staff writer Bud Patterson and written by poet Sherrie Ball that sums up the holiday well.
I do not know your name –
Nor for which battle you died.
I do not know your home,
Nor the tears that were cried.
I do not know where you rest –
Nor the promises broken.
I do not know your uniform
And your fears lay unspoken.
But, I know your courage exists –
That your courage is admired,
And your sacrifice is honored
By each soul that’s inspired.
And I offer you from my heart
Thank you, to guardians unknown
For offering yourselves for us all
That we may keep freedom...
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