Veterans History Project

I’m not a Veteran.

But any Veteran means a lot to me. My grandfather, his brother, a few uncles, a couple more friends and extended family members, a score of former coworkers, and a few of my neighbors have all served.

As a teacher I take an hour and do a general letter writing lesson to local veterans leading up to Veterans Day. It wasn’t my idea but as soon as I heard about this lesson I jumped on board. Even this year in Mr. Tucker’s Early Childhood Education Center we wrote letters to a few local Vets. These letters to be delivered today during class. A simple, “Thank you for your service.” and anything else the student would like to include on the topic/day.

Veterans Day has always been an interesting day for me. It used to be an easy excuse to check in on my grandfather and thank him directly for his service. He would be embarrassed but touched that I remembered his service. That phone call would take me all around the world during his time in the Army. He served during the Korean War but as close as he got to Korea during that War was Weisbaden Germany.

Then, I’d call my grandfather’s older brother, Uncle Joe. He lived well into his 90’s. He was a part of that Greatest Generation. It was always a challenging phone call. He and I struggled to communicate in person because of his hearing loss. It was a test of both of our patience’s to get him to understand who I was and why I was calling those last few years.

Huh?

Who is this?

Who?

Jerry’s grandson?

Ricky son?

What? The War?

Yeah, I was in it

My Uncle Joe minus the expletives

My Uncle Joe got into WWII at the very end. He ran security at an Allied Base in Germany that housed surrendered Nazi soldiers. The one story he always told took place on a country road days after the German surrender. He was out for a walk and crossed paths with another man. The man was probably a fleeing German soldier trying to get home. Scared to death that he would be one of those unfortunate soldiers that would be killed after the War was over. He told me how they locked eyes. Sized each other up. Never spoke. Never broke eye contact until each of them were safely passed each other. Both humans allowing the other to go about there way. The same story he told my grandfather his entire life. To which my grandfather always stated, “That was his brother’s luck”. If it were him, my grandfather would say, “I would have ran across the one guy who wanted to go out fighting.”

What you did for all of US,

Then and now

Today being Veterans Day I can’t help but think of my grandfather and his brother back through the years. A small gesture. A thank you. A letter throughout the years to connect people. To keep those stories alive. In hopes that we as human beings might live in a world without war.

As a kid we had a parade that ended at the ended on my street. It was a small town. It had one stop light and another on the highway. Still does mind you. Today, it seems like some of us care more about the the sales, others even annoyed by the few parade routes remaining, than remembering those who have sacrificed for us.

PTSD, the pain of being away from your loved one, amputees, and worse. Anyone who serves this country shouldn’t have to wait or be denied any type of assistance for any type of pain due to service. Physical, emotional, mental, psychological, or any other way you can hurt.

Even in the best of times. Even in the most peaceful of times. Those that serve our country and their families have always given a piece of themselves for all of us. For all of this stuff we all surrounded ourselves with. How does any military family live on food stamps and below the poverty line in the Greatest Nation on Earth?

Keep the Promise to our Vets.

And let us not forget,

You are not forgotten

Ken

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