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