Team Veteran: It Is a Family Affair{10}

my favorite veteran and father

My Dad’s┬áday at the office.

My father is no longer with us, but the honor of this day is justly served in remembering him with admiration, respect and love, though such a pronouncement would have made him wince; he would have told me he was just doing his job.

F-100 fighter jet and my pilot Dad

Captain Dad and his trusty steed (F-100) on the flight-line.

I grew up loving a veteran: my Dad, a larger than life man who flew jets from the time I could finger paint until the time I could vote. His Air Force career spanned three decades and covered the globe (sometimes with us, and sometimes without). Our lives were interwoven into his sense of duty, patriotism and honor. As his family, we were along for the ride, or flight (as the case may have been).

While other kids met their Dad at the door each day, we would assemble on the flight line to reunite with a man we hadn’t seen in months. There was no complaining, no whining, and no grousing about time lost, missed birthdays and anniversaries. We would pick up where we left off and embrace our lives together, for however long that would be until the next assignment or remote tour.

Mom Dad retirement

It takes a team: My mother being honored for her service at my father’s retirement ceremony.

Behind Dad was my mother. A veteran in her own right, she was the glue that held our family together during long absences and uncertain times. They were (and are) a team. When we’d say grace, we’d also pray for the safe return of my father. When my father was back at the head of the table, my mother would amend grace to include a pray of thanks and gratitude.

Dad's last flight in a fighter jet

My brother toasting my Dad’s final flight in an Air Force jet.

On this Veteran’s Day, I would like to salute the men and women of the armed forces for their service and to their families, for they don’t undertake this sacrifice and journey alone. Every day, our lives are touched by those who serve and have served our country. Every day we are likely to unknowingly encounter someone who has lost a loved one or a family member to the horrors of war.

Heroes are among us, living their lives quietly and without the recognition they so often deserve. Each veteran has a story, a story that plays out on the pages of our nation’s history and character.

From my father, to my three uncles who served in World War II, to my friend Leo who’s kind smile and quick laugh belie what his eyes have seen as a young soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan, I thank you all for your service. As a nation, know we not only hold you in high esteem this day, but every day.

Family pic

Home from overseas (Japan), and a few years before my brother joined the family.

My hometown hero

My hometown hero

I shared this post last year, and thought the message was worth repeating.