November 11th, Veterans Day. Formerly Armistice Day, but now a national holiday remembering all Veterans and not just those who fought in WWI.
Every Veterans Day my mind is focused on my favorite veteran of all, my Granddaddy Bill. This will be the 3rd Veterans Day we’ve celebrated since his passing.
Some of my favorite memories with him are the ones where I somehow snuck my way into the living room to watch a baseball game with him. Watching turned into talking and talking always turned into storytelling. He was the best storyteller I’ve ever known.
He had stories of his childhood (he was quite the troublemaker), stories of my Mom as a child, stories of him and Gramman (they were complete opposites so those stories were always funny), and then stories of his time in the Army.
He served in WWII. He started me off with the light-hearted ones when I was just a kid. Like the time he climbed the roof of a Nazi base in the middle of the night to steal their flag. Like I said…troublemaker!
But as I got older and he knew I could take it, he opened up to me even more about the hard times he went through as a soldier.
My Granddaddy Bill was a tough man. A strong, protective man. But when he relived the stories of heartache from WWII, even he wept.
Being a soldier comes with great sacrifice, even for those who escape with their lives and no physical injuries. There is great emotional sacrifice when you see your best friend die before your eyes, it’s heartbreaking when you say goodbye to your wife and kids for months on end, and there are agonizing choices to make that most never dream of.
Today, I’m grateful for the life and legacy of my Granddaddy Bill and for all veterans who fight for my freedom day in and day out.
To the men and women who serve, and to their families who sacrifice just as much…thank you.