Since this is Veterans' Day (or Remembrance Day a few miles away in Canada) I first thought that I'd spotlight one veteran for each take. But I realized that I couldn't pick just seven, so some of them are in groups...
Let's start with my dad. He was the oldest of five children, and my grandfather died when he was only 13, so by the time WWII came along, he'd been "man of the house" for quite a while. I've never known what my grandmother thought, but I do know that my dad felt a strong need to enlist. Even though he'd broken his right upper arm very badly when he was a preschooler, and the doctors had said he'd never be able to use the arm. But my grandfather, ignoring the doctors, had worked with my dad until he could do most things with it, including write -- since he was right-handed -- and support things he was lifting with his other arm. My dad argued with the Army until they let him in, with the restriction that he could only serve stateside. He did jobs that freed a more-ablebodied soldier to serve and perhaps die in combat. And he's my hero just the same. Because he didn't HAVE to serve at all. But he did.
My uncles are next. Uncle Joe (Dad's brother) hit the beach on D-day. Uncle Dick (Mom's brother) was in the Army Air Corps. My other Uncle Dick (Dad's brother) wangled an enlistment even though he was underage. (He lied, OK?) He was in on the mop-up in Europe. My youngest uncle, Mom's brother Raymond, served in Korea. My father-in-law also served in the Army in WWII. He did some foot-slogging, but wound up as the aide to the aide of a general. I wish I'd recorded some of his stories when I had a chance.
Roger served in the Coast Guard from 1976 to 1979. He was a Quartermaster -- navigation and other things -- on a couple of cutters, ending up here in our current hometown. He served during the "window" years -- there was a brief period where no official conflicts were happening -- which means that he, and every soldier, sailor, airman, and marine who served only during the same period, aren't qualified for the American Legion or the VFW. Something should be done about that!
Brandon, obviously, is currently serving in the Coast Guard. He loves his work, and will probably make a career of it.
LOTS of relatives and friends. My cousin Rob, a former Air Force pilot. Roger's sister Nancy, and her husband Doug, both former Air Force. Our nephew John, Navy. Our friend Ernesto, his daughter Rosa and her husband Nic, all Army/National Guard. Our best man's son Ryan, a Marine with two tours in Iraq. Trevor, who we watched grow up from a tiny altar boy, just back from a stint in Afghanistan -- Air Force. Kids I chaperoned at Band Camp, now in just about every service. And no doubt a bunch I can't actively call to mind...
Oh, and he certainly isn't a veteran yet, but Kelson was sworn into the Coast Guard last Thursday. He leaves for boot camp in early March.
A BIG Thank You to all these people and their comrades, no matter what service, whether or not they ever saw combat, and no matter whether they enlisted to protect the country or to earn money for college. The United States would be a much-less-wonderful place without you!
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