To quote author Kevin Welch, “There will be two dates on your tombstone and all your friends will read them. But all this is going to matter is that little dash between them.”
Now that my wife and I are approaching 72 we look at the obituaries in the newspapers to see if there is anyone we know. We are particularly interested in those that have flags next to their names. This indicates they served in the military. My wife commented to me that it was sad to see some of the obituaries because they didn’t say anything about the military service of the deceased. Was it because the family didn’t know or sadly, that they didn’t think it was important.
When I go to Hines VA, I observe all the Veterans there and think to myself, “These men and women are a part of living history. They have important stories to share.” I know when I get together with my brothers and we talk about our experiences in the military, both funny and traumatic memories that have been hidden come to the surface. In some cases that is a good thing, but in others not so much.
In many instances as we do a final salute for a Veteran, the family will come up to us and say, “We didn’t know what dad did in the war.” Because they had to present his or her DD-214 or discharge papers, they discovered that there loved one was a hero.
To my fellow Veterans, I implore you to tell your families about your experiences in the military. You don’t have to tell them all the gory details of war, but let them know where you served and a general idea of what you did while serving.
A dear friend of mine did a book for his grandsons to answer the question, “What did you do in the war, Granddad?”
Our family members need to know the sacrifices that we made for them so they can enjoy the freedoms we cherish as Americans.