On this Veteran's Day, I want to say "thank you" to those who have served and are serving in the U.S. military. Those who sacrifice so much to keep our country safe and preserve our freedoms. My dad served in the U.S. Army during WW2. Wasn't he handsome? Here he is in his uniform on his wedding day, August 14, 1944.
My father-in-law served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during WW2, and then a career spanning Korea and Viet Nam, retiring after 26 years, I think.
My uncle served during the Korean War. He was gone when my oldest cousin was born, and came home just before his first brithday. He is not the only service man to miss the first year (or more) of a child's life.
And Wonderful Husband served. He grew up an Air Force brat and was drafted during Viet Nam (yes, his grades were THAT good) and served three tours. He flew attack helicopters, Cobras. I think he must have been just a little crazy then, when I hear his stories. certainly he thought he was invincible.
Later, after he earned his degree, he served in the U. S. Coast Guard and spent much of his career teaching young Naval Aviators to fly. I think he was a great teacher. Once, after we had been out in the evening, we pulled up at the house to find a car out front. It was a little scary, even in those days. After we parked in the driveway, a young Ensign pops out of his car with a bottle of champagne - he had passed his check ride that day and the champagne was a thank you to WH for all the extra hours he put in to pound basic flying skills into this young man's head. The young Ensign was so excited, we didn't have the heart to tell him that we don't drink champagne.
And whether we as a society acknowledge it or not, those left behind also serve and sacrifice. The young bride (my mom) whose true love leaves her for more than a year three days after the wedding. The young mother (my aunt) whose husband is deployed when their first child is born. And the young (and not-so-young) mothers, fathers, wives, and children who wait for their loved one to return from deployment - hoping, wanting to believe, that they will return healthy and strong and resume their place by your side, but knowing that many do not. When our children were young, the Navy acknowledged this with a slogan: "Navy Wife. The toughest job in the Navy." In so many ways that is true.
So to all of you - those who have served, those who are serving now, and those who simply wait, I say