As we celebrate Veterans Day today. Let us pause and salute all who have served and honor the tremendous sacrifices our US armed forces and their families make to preserve our freedom. Thank you for your dedication, service and bravery.
The following piece was originally posted in November of 2011:
On a more personal note we wanted to say thank you to our Dads.
I’ll be honest, it took me becoming an adult to fully appreciate all that my father did as part of his military career. I always knew that my dad was in the Army… or I should say I don’t remember a moment where I didn’t know what he did. I saw him daily leave for work in his uniform. He was in the Army and that was just his “job“.
Every now and then he’d leave for a long weekend or for a couple weeks and head out to “the field“. I just envisioned this as a fun place where they’d drive around in tanks or trucks, camp in tents and eat MREs, or Meal, Ready to Eat (which if my brother and I were lucky – he’d bring home a couple extra for us). My mom would keep us busy and hold down the home front for him until he returned ( I know how tough that must have been and have no doubt that she is the glue that held our family together.. but that’s another story for another day).
I remember the exact moment that I was told that not only was my dad a helicopter pilot in Vietnam but he was shot down and severely injured during the crash. I remember because we were at my grandparents house and my uncle told me… maybe he thought I knew. I didn’t. And I had nightmares for a long time afterwards and just the thought of what “could have happened” had me refusing to ask my dad about his days in Vietnam until I was much, much older.
But now, I can listen and be proud of all that he endured. I can sit in awe at the stories he and his friends tell about their experiences in war and other military experiences. I have since learned that he wasn’t just shot down once during that war but multiple times. And I wonder how could he continue to go up again and again after being shot down; up until the time when he couldn’t go up again. But I know the answer… he did it for the men he fought with, his family and friends at home, for his future children and their freedoms, and maybe because he has just a little bit of restlessness in him (he wouldn’t have wanted to sit on the sidelines).
More recently I was having a conversation with a colleague who mentioned that he was in the infantry during Vietnam. I shared that my father had flown OH-6 helicopters back then. His reply was “Tell him thank you for me”… which must have prompted a confused look from me. So he said – “your dad would have been a scouter – flying close to the tree lines locating enemy position, strength and movement. His job kept a lot of us safe”.
So, Dad – thank you for keeping us safe. I am very aware of where my strength and perseverance from. I love you and am honored to be your daughter.
Like Deena, I grew up as a “military brat”. My dad was in the Air Force and we moved around every 3-4 years, lived on Air Force bases, went to the BX and the commissary, had ID cards and lived in base housing. It took a while for me to realize there was another “life” besides the military life. Not everyone’s dad dressed up in uniform to go to work and saluted people everywhere they went. I didn’t take for granted what my dad did, I just didn’t know. My dad wasn’t on the front line, but he put in his blood, sweat and tears to serve the military, to serve our country.
My dad met my mom when he was stationed in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. He couldn’t bring her home to meet his family. He couldn’t fly his family to Vietnam to meet her. There was a war going on. He married my mom in Vietnam, during a war, without anyone from his side of the family by his side. This is one of the many sacrifices our military men and women make. They spend time away from home and family. They miss the birth of their children, first steps, first words, birthdays, holidays.
But my dad was never absent. He traveled quite a bit, yet he was always there. Somehow he managed a demanding career while being the best dad to me and my brother and a great husband to my mom. And through the years he taught me what it means to be an honorable person. He taught me about making sacrifices and being humble, about empathy and generosity, and let’s face it, he’s a miltary man so he taught me about timeliness, scheduling and organization!
So I thank my dad, not just for the blood, sweat and tears he put into serving our country, but for the blood, sweat and tears he put into being the best dad and helping me believe in myself and becoming the best that I can be. I am still learning from him and am so blessed to call him Dad.
Today, on Veterans Day as we honor those who risk their lives for us, please think about taking a moment to make a tax deductible donation to the Wounded Warrior Project. Or sign up to volunteer at one of their events. This charity helps thousands of wounded warriors returning home battle and provides assistance to their families.