Monday, November 11, 2013

My weekly post will be up tomorrow, but for today I’d be remiss to not stop, pause, and say thank you. To the men and women who have served over the years, thank you for your selfless time serving our country.

To my former students, you will always be my kids. So when you went off to Afghanistan and Iraq I silently grieved.  When you returned I quietly celebrated.  Thank you for selflessly serving, I’m still so proud of you.

It wasn’t until a conversation with a colleague this week that I realized that my own children have never known a world where the U.S. was not involved in conflict or war around the world.  It was so sad to me.  It was at that moment that I’ve never been more grateful for the service of my family and my freedom.

My dad has traced our family history to every battle and conflict that America has ever seen, thankfully ending in the World War II era.  Great-grandfathers and their fathers, grandfathers, great uncles, father-in-law, and my father have all served.

More personally, I’ve been told and retold stories of our family heroes:
For my Uncle Dominick, who served in the North African invasion and later was moved to the Normandy invasion, thank you “Micky”.  This handsome young man paid the ultimate price with his life after a fierce enemy encounter.  A brave man, who was the ultimate hero to his platoon – giving his life so they could return home and keep theirs.  A silver star, a bronze star, and the Purple Heart will never replace the grief that the family went through in losing you.

For my grandfather who, two days after Uncle Dominick was killed, was “slightly wounded” (ahem, amputation - I’m always amazed by the words the government uses) in France, thank you Poppy.  His injury and sacrifice would live with him for the next 34 years.  His distinctive gait that I remember was the ultimate reminder of the sacrifice he made on that day.  Every little girl has a hero in her life and my Poppy was mine – tall, strong, brave, proud, and protective.  The war, his injuries, and the battle never really left him - my hero succumb to cancer related to war and my world came crashing down on my 10th birthday. 

My maternal grandfather saw plenty of action himself.  On his ship in the Pacific, for some reason his life was spared from the Kamikaze pilot whose plane blasted into the ship where he was to be the gunner on duty that day.  Unfortunately, the sailor in his place died, and my grandfather returned home to his wife and his infant daughter.  I never knew of the battle he had seen or life on a ship that was continuously under attack with no way to retreat, until the day he died and we were writing his obituary.  Thanks Bepa for your silent service.

To my dad, the one who taught us to be proud of our military men and women.  The one who has so much pride in our service and shares that pride with my kids in our family’s story and kept the memory of my uncle and grandfather alive.  From jumping out of airplanes, to maneuvering tanks, to being spit on & being threatened by anti-war protesters in the airport on his way home to see my mom and sister, he certainly paid his price.  Although my kids believed his tales for years, that he fought at the Alamo with Davey Crockett and jumped out of a plane to single handedly save the president, he is what every child deserves - their hero. Thanks for your service dad. 

To each veteran, near and far, to those serving right now on the front lines to protect our freedom and the freedom of others, my family and I thank you.

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