I found myself getting a little emotional today on Veteran’s Day. That’s because veterans aren’t an anonymous group of strong men marching in a parade. They are my father, my husband and my sons.
My late father enlisted in the Navy during World War II. He certainly wasn’t the soldier or even the sailor type. He was a Minnesota boy who got violently seasick on the transport ship taking him to his duty station in the Pacific on a supply base in the Easter Islands. He worked in a Quonset hut typing supply orders. He wasn’t very good at that either, but he was a dependable worker. The climate was steamy. He told me that they had to keep an electric light bulb burning in their foot locker to keep the leather on their shoes from getting moldy.
Before I met my husband Gordon, he served in the Army for two years in the Vietnam War Era. He was based in Okinawa, half a world away from his home in North Carolina, doing administrative work helping run the base. Our oldest son, Jeff, served as an engineer in the Air Force for four years in Colorado Springs.
Our middle son Chris was graduating from college with an Army R.O.T.C. scholarship when the Iraq War began. He was trained in field artillery and stationed at Ft. Bragg, N.C. He went “Airborne” and became a paratrooper, learning how to jump out of planes at low altitudes in full gear.
We put a huge yellow bow on the pine tree out front here at home when he served in Afghanistan for 4 months. Later Chris was deployed to Iraq for 18 months and we put up the same yellow bow. It was a prayer anchor that I passed every morning on my prayer walk on my way down the driveway. It was a true lesson in trust and dependence on God to have a son in so far away in harm’s way.
When Chris first arrived in Iraq, he was a platoon leader, leading his men out on missions “outside the wire” in hostile territory. He earned the Bronze Star. What a joy it was to finally take down the old yellow bow, full of pines needles and faded and frayed from rain and sun. This is the second Veteran’s Day since Chris has gotten out of the Army. He’s working toward an MBA and is the founder of a website called www.seriousrunning.com I sent him an email today thanking him for his service and telling him how proud I am of him.
Maybe you get a little emotional on Veteran’s Day, too. Out of my four veterans – my father, my husband and my two sons – only one of them has been called upon to fire a rifle in hostile territory. Yet all of them have served well, giving their time and their service. They have set aside their lives of comfort and gone to new and far away places to perform their assigned duties. I am proud and honored that they are and will forever be the brave men in my life.