Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In Honor of Veteran's Day

This is the day we honor those who have served.

That would include my grandfather, Earl Palmer. Speaking at his funeral was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Whatever I'd have said would have been inadequate. Gramp was just the best kind of man. Strong and silent and funny and just steady. He is missed, often.

My father served in the Navy for 30 years. His service was an integral part of our lives. He worked in incredibly dangerous situations, such as on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Enterprise. He taught all his children about the sacrifices made by those charged with ensuring we are safe.

He never quite managed to impart in me the ability to embrace the military sensibility. I'm not big on following orders without question. I'm not big on things being black and white, as they so often seem to be in military circles.

But I think being in a military family changes your view of the world. You understand, deeply, the importance of honor and dedication and commitment to something bigger than oneself. Dad would probably say he was just doing his job. But there are a lot of ways to make a living that don't involve weekly paychecks of $19 (which is not much of an exaggeration, he's shown us his early pay stubs). And there are jobs where you don't have to leave your wife and kids for months (or for some, years) at a time. There are jobs where you don't risk losing your legs or life because an arresting cable snapped, or because someone is forgetful and gets sucked into a jet engine.

I once toyed with the idea of joining the Air Force. At the time, I asked my father to write a recommendation for me. I would have gone to Officer's Training School, and my first day out of that training I would have held a higher rank than my father. (He preferred to be an enlisted man for his entire career, rather than move up to being the lowest officer rank.) In his recommendation, he said that he would be proud to salute me, and to this day, I can't read or think about that letter without tearing up.

That's because I know in my heart I can never hold a candle to my old man. His integrity. His devotion to his wife and family. His strength in his convictions. My father is, without a doubt, the greatest man I have ever known. And the military helped make him the man he is.

So, Dad, I salute you, and all of your fellow military men and women, on Veteran's Day and every day.


Jessica said...

What a beautiful tribute Scotty. I love the pictures of Uncle Earl and your dad. How lucky we are that they made such noble sacrifices to serve our country.

Jonderson said...

Scott, with a tribute like that I'd be proud to salute you as well. Thank your dad for me.