I always assumed I would marry a military man. My dad had served. My grandfather had served. Most of my uncles and male cousins had served.
It’s a little known fact that my grandma also did her part during WWII. Apparently the behind sticking out over the engine in the black-and-white photo discovered around the time of her 19th birthday was Grandma Vi changing the oil as a uniform clad 19-year-old.
Listening to the National Anthem was a moving experience, often drawing a tear to a remembering eye, or just to those who could imagine.
Grandma may have kept her service something of a secret, but everyone knew Grandpa had served. His stories of leaping down into trees at the sound of the enemy approaching had us kids in stitches as we enjoyed the grandpa we were lucky to have.
Grandpa had his own secrets from his service, sharing with only me the story of his best friend who died because he stole Grandpa’s foxhole.
Yes, we were a patriotic family.
My grandparents had a full-sized flag pole in the front yard back in the days before I knew that “Mommy” was actually “Grandma” and would even participate in the Fourth of July Parade when my dad and uncle were kids.
As I look back, maybe I shouldn’t be quite as surprised that my generation in what I call the nucleus of my family is missing a veteran.
As patriotic as they were I can look back and see how the behavior of my grandparents changed over time which may have led to a lack of fervor for patriotism in my generation.
In childhood I remember celebrating Independence Day. I remember watching the faces of veterans as the bright colors flared overhead. I remember the stories swapped, even if it was only name, rank and serial number upon passing at the parade.
As a young person those stories were not told as often. The celebrations became less important. The family did not take the time to remember.
To remember not just those who are out there somewhere right this very minute taking on a task that many of us are not suited for.
To remember that there are many people nearby who suffered the horrors not just of going away, but also of coming home since Vietnam and before.
To remember there are those who never came home, even after the POW’s were released.
To remember there are those who (barely) stand still who were present during World War I and World War II.
To remember that wars are not only for foreign soil.
To remember that a few loyal individuals took up arms against their own country in order to protect our right to make our lives better today than they were yesterday.
I can think of no more appropriate way to thank a veteran than to do my best to make someone else’s life better.
May we all take time to show our gratitude for our opportunity to serve.
Beanie Taylor is a staff reporter for The Tribune. Follow her on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor or Facebook at www.facebook.com/TBeanieTaylor.