I have waited to the end of the day to say something about the purpose for such a day. Regardless of your views of the various and sundry wars the US has been involved in, today is an opportunity to pay tribute to those who made the sacrifice to serve their country.
Rumor has it that a distant cousin on my mom's side of the family is Alvin C York. (We also had a cousin - same side of the family - ride with the Jesse James gang. The good and the bad.)
My grandpa (dad's side): John ****. First generation to be born in the US - oldest of 7. Spoke German until he was 5 and started school. He served in the same unit as Richard I. Bong - the Ace of Aces - in the Pacific during WWII. We have a picture from the reunion in the early 1990's. Several great fighter pilots came from 49th Fighter Group. He was a mechanic and later served in Germany post war. He retired as a Sergeant and passed away in 2000. I can never recall him ever talking about his days in the military.
My dad: John ****. Despite bad ankles and a history of weight problems that exempted him from service, he enlisted in the army in 1969. He trained as a medic and was stationed at Ft. Campbell, TN for a while as well as San Antionio, TX and somewhere in Colorado. He loved to metal detect and ran his own business. I think he knew just about everyone in Middle Tennessee (even Hank Williams Jr. who would call the shop every now and then - shocked my brother!) Our guns and now impressive Civil War relic collection were previously his. He passed way in March of this year.
My uncle (mom's side): Dennis *******. US Navy. Still serves in the Naval Reserve and lives about 30 minutes from me.
My brother: Eric ****. Specialist in the Army National Guard. He joined the military to gain discipline and learn a skill. Because he's such a serious young man, he was a squad leader at Basic and scored "expert" in his marksmanship training. Soon deploying to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is a mechanic working on heavy equipment. He will spend several months in training in the US before leaving for a year to Iraq or Kuwait (we don't know which yet - we do know it will be at the rear given his MOS) sometime between October and December. Strong Christian young man - God will allow Eric to be a blessing to his unit and probably to the Iraqis.
I am proud and honored to have these men as a part of my family.
God bless America.