This Monday, November 11, is Veterans Day. My Uncle Len, now 91 years old, is a WWII veteran. My dad, who passed away almost 5 years ago at the age of 94, was also a veteran of WWII. We grew up hearing many stories of my dad's time in service to our country. We heard many of the stories repeatedly as they were so well ingrained in his life; and often told with laughter, though I'm sure felt with tears.
Just over a year ago, I was at the funeral of my Uncle Al, also a WWII veteran. It was the first time I had been to a burial that included a full military salute, and it was deeply moving. As I spoke with my Uncle Len, after the funeral that day, he iterated a story that sticks with me and especially comes to mind on Veterans Day.
Uncle Len lives in Wisconsin, where he and my dad were born and raised, and also has a home in Arizona for the winter months. He told me the story of the year he flew to Arizona on Veterans Day on US Airways. At the start of the flight, the pilot made an announcement about this special day and asked for all veterans on the flight to be recognized. Uncle Len was 88 at the time, and the flight attendant approached him, advised that he was the oldest veteran on the flight, and in honor, they would move him to a first class seat. Once seated, now in first class, the flight attendant asked him if he would like water, a drink, or champagne. He replied, nothing, as he didn't want to have to get up during the flight to use the washroom. (after all, he was 88!) The flight took off, and he was well on his way to the warmth of his winter home. The flight was routine. After landing, as he walked into the terminal, (he told me with a big smile on his face), people from the flight were applauding, shaking his hand, and thanking him for his service. And what struck me most was what he said next (with a chuckle): it was the first time since I returned from the war that I was thanked for my service. (at the age of 88!)
And this is a story I will tell repeatedly with laughter (as he did), but feel with tears.
Thank you Dad, Uncle Len, Uncle Al, and all other veterans of all wars for your brave, unquestionable, and honorable service to our great nation!
Find out how you can give back to all veterans for their service!