Being the daughter and granddaughter of men who spent time in the military service, veterans always have held a special place in my heart. They taught me to appreciate the freedoms we take for granted.
My grandfather served in the Army during World War II and I really wish I had taken an interest in that part of his life when he was still alive to share it. It’s possible he wouldn’t have, but I never asked.
The same holds true of my father. Dad served as a Marine during the Korean War years before I was born. He never shared that part of his life with me or my brother. I know he was proud to be a Marine. I don’t remember that he ever said so, but we just knew.
My father passed away 17 years ago and my mother just nine years ago. After Mom passed away, among the family photos, my brother and I found a small stack of pictures of Dad during his time in the Corps. While I was thrilled to have them, I was also a little sad that he wasn’t around to tell me about them, about his buddies, where he was stationed, his training. I confess, sadly, that I don’t even know his rank or where he served.
I remember him talking a little about Hawaii, and there was one picture, taken from a ship, of Mount Fuji in Japan. I also remember hearing about how he and Mom met when he was home on leave.
She was impressed with that dress blue uniform. Back in the day, young people went roller skating on Saturday night for fun. I don’t know how much truth there is to the story but supposedly Mom and her girlfriend were both impressed with the handsome Marine with the black hair. Both wanted to skate with him during the ladies’ choice moonlight skate ... and Mom was the better skater so she got there first.
I think he would be pleased I put all the photos in a nice album with captions based on what little he had written on the backs of the photos.
Veterans Day has a new meaning for me as I have a son serving in the Army. By the time you read this, Andrew will be in Afghanistan for a second deployment.
He is an EOD tech. That stands for explosive ordnance disposal. In layman’s terms, he’s a bomb tech. Of course, that description doesn’t come close to describing everything he does. I don’t know everything he does, and I’m not sure I want to know.
If you’ve seen the movie “The Hurt Locker,” that gives you some idea of what he does. He cautions that the movie is dramatized, of course, but there is some truth to it. I haven’t watched and don’t plan to until he’s completely out of the Army.
Clearly, we’ve instilled that sense of patriotism in him, as well as in my daughters. It thrills me to see them respecting veterans and thanking them for their service. I do the same when I can.
As a storyteller, I talk with veterans about their service every chance I get – particularly World War II veterans. Most don’t believe they did anything extraordinary.
Next weekend offers a time set aside specifically to thank veterans for their service and sacrifice. While I’m sure there are more events in the area, we have a list of several in this week’s Valley Free Press on page 6.
And if you want to see a beautiful example of a veterans memorial, read about the Sheridan Veterans Memorial on page 3. The community is hosting a service at noon on Monday, Nov. 12.
Our nation has its problems, but take a minute and thank a veteran for his or her service on Veterans Day or any day.