First Posted: 11/10/2009
The weather should not keep us from thanking the veterans who served our country today.
Readers who know a veteran, or who see a veteran out and about today, should take the time to stop and say thank you.
As many people my age, I had a grandfather who served during World War II. While Im not certain what my grandfathers feelings were about serving and the things that happened during the war, I know he loved to tell stories about some of his time overseas.
During the war, he and my grandmother, who werent married yet, would write letters back and forth. After my grandmother died, I found a small diary she kept for a couple of years during her late teens and she would mention when she would get letters from him, or when he was in town visiting before he was shipped overseas.
Grandpa helped run radio communications while he was overseas. He told a story about a time when it was so foggy and dark that all the trucks had to be chained together so they could stay together and in line as they traveled along a steep cliff. One wrong move and the truck would have gone over the edge.
Dachau concentration camp was liberated during the night, and he visited there that same day. When my sister had the opportunity to visit the concentration camp during a high school trip to Germany in 1998 or 99, she came back and spent hours talking to Grandpa about it and sharing pictures with him of what it was like then.
Like many veterans, my grandfather didnt graduate from high school. He tried to sign up early to enter the military, but wasnt accepted due to poorer eye sight than they wanted, but later in the war, he was drafted into the Army. After returning home and deciding to join the ministry, he finished school and received his GED.
My grandfather, who died a few years ago, isnt the only veteran in my family. My great-grandfather was in the Marine Corps, and my great-uncle also served in the military. I have two cousins who served in the Air Force, one made it his career and just recently retired and the other stayed in just a few years.
Now, I have a second cousin, the son of the career-soldier, who recently graduated from boot camp at Parris Island, S.C. My great-grandfather also went through training at Parris Island in the early 1900s.
Even I had thoughts about joining the Air Force when I was in high school, even into college. I decided just having the urge to fly really fast fighter jets wasnt a good enough reason to commit myself to the military, so I stuck with college instead.
It takes a lot of courage to put your life on the line for a cause, whether it is to protect one person or to protect a whole country. For all those who have been brave and taken that commitment and responsibility, I want to say thank you. You are our heroes.
Wendy Byerly Wood is the associate editor of The Mount Airy News. She can be reached at [email protected]