Memorial Day

Anything military always makes me teary-eyed. I love watching the videos of American soldiers coming home after being deployed. It’s heartwarming to see them reunite with their families. I love watching the motorcycle rides parading down the highway to honor those who have served our country. Yesterday, we pulled to the side of the road to allow them to pass and to show our support.

It’s amazing what these vets have done for our country. I think about my uncles, my dad, and my brother who have passed on. They were proud to have served our country. And I think about my son who has been deployed three times, putting himself in danger and making sacrifices along the way.

And not to forgot all others who have served and continue to serve…I thank you for your service. My heart goes out to the parents who have had sons or daughters who did not come home. One in particular that I’m thinking about today is an EOD who served with my son. He will never be forgotten.

Vandenberg Memorial

Happy Veterans Day!

Last August and September my son went on a mission near Berlin, Germany to collect the remains of our World War II heroes missing in action when their planes crashed. What an honor to be able to bring those heroes home to their families and to give them closure. I can only imagine the emotions that ran through my son when dismantling the planes to get at the remains and to find the personal items, knowing the pilots had been in the midst of all the fighting. How they were men with families and ones that they’d never see again. I’m emotional just thinking about it.

Here’s to all our Vets who’ve served our country. Let’s not forget them.

Lessons Learned: Veterans Day – more than you realize…

When you see a veteran tomorrow, or any day, remember to thank them for their service. They deserve this day…and then some.

For all those who served our country and fought in a war, there was the immediate risk of danger. Our vets from previous wars and those still in active duty have seen things and been through experiences that we can’t even imagine. I think of the soldiers being attacked, having bullets come at them and not know if they’ll get out safely. I think of the soldiers who have been exposed to biological or chemical warfare. They may not have known about the exposure or seen the damage it caused until years after the fact.

And for those who served our country but did not have to fight during war, they were able to prepare, strategize, and train. They were ready to take action. Their work moved the military forward.

Tomorrow the veterans deserve their day.

To all who have and are serving, I thank you.
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Lessons Learned: Funeral for a Dad

This last week has been filled with mixed emotions and chaos to say the least. I believe I’ve held up quite well since my dad passed away. Maybe because I haven’t had time to think or to grieve yet. I have had my bouts of tears and crying, but it hasn’t hit me yet that I won’t see him again. The whirl of being busy has consumed us.

After his passing, we (my brother and sisters) had to take care of my mom, and we had many phone calls to make. Our phones were constantly ringing. Yes, we may have missed telling some friends or army buddies, but we tried our best. We also had to make the funeral arrangements. The funeral home was a tremendous help. They asked questions, handled the church, the flowers…they took care of everything.

We then had family fly in from other states which included my sister and brother-in-law from Texas, my nephews from California, and my son from Germany. We were busy traveling to the airport and figuring out places to sleep.

The night of the wake, we were at the funeral home for five hours. The hard part was seeing my dad again in his open casket. The touching part was seeing the different flowers and plants from friends and family. Those who came to pay their respects for our father also touched us. We met a woman who had gone to high school with my dad. Another was a friend of his from when he was little. My dad was 84. We’re talking about people who knew him 60/70 years ago and hadn’t seen him in years.

The funeral was tough as well; we were drained from the night before. My sister and I gave the eulogy. We took turns listing his favorite things, his hobbies, and key personality traits. We were nervous but found the strength to smile and to celebrate his life versus thinking about the grief.

The ceremony at the cemetery was even more touching and heartfelt. Five veterans provided a small service to salute my dad who had served in the Korean War. The veterans were the same group who had honored my brother when he passed 2 ½ years ago. My son, in his Air Force uniform, took the honors of presenting the flag to my mom. There wasn’t a dry eye when seeing him kneel down in front of her, present the flag, and then stand again to salute her.

Our final goodbye was a family celebration of his life at my brother’s house. My dad’s favorite drink was Jack Daniels so we toasted my dad with a shot of Jack. We then toasted my brother with a shot of his favorite—blackberry brandy. We all had tears but we also had laughs as we shared memories with each other.

Family Toast to Dad 2

I think my father would have been proud and happy of his funeral and his celebration of life. And when the grief hits, when time stands still, I will think about what the pastor said to us right after our last goodbye. She said, “Look around you. This is what Stan (and your mom) created. Because of him, you are all here. This is reason to celebrate.”

I love you, Dad.

Dad 5

For Those Who Serve

People sign up to join the United States Military for different reasons. Some know at an early age that they want to join and what they want to do. If a dad or mom is in the military, their child may decide that’s the route they want to take as well. Some know they want to join after learning in school about the history of war or hearing someone talk about their experiences in the service. Others have been forced to join (remember the draft?), while others join as an escape or to get their life in order. Some may join to learn a special skill or to help pay for college.

Whatever the reason, these men and women have taken an oath to serve our country. They have stepped up to the plate to defend our rights, our freedoms, our land, and our people. They take pride in what they do, they take the pain and will suffer if necessary. They also form bonds with their comrades. A bond that I noticed is pretty strong.

No matter the person, the reason, the branch, or the duration of their service, these individuals deserve to be honored – yesterday, today, and tomorrow. To those currently serving and to those who served in the past…

Thank you.