Main Entry: vet·er·an
Pronunciation: \ˈve-tə-rən, ˈve-trən\
Etymology: Latin veteranus, from veteranus, adjective, old, of long experience, from veter-, vetus old
1 a : an old soldier of long service b : a former member of the armed forces
2 : a person of long experience usually in some occupation or skill (as politics or the arts)
— veteran adjective
I had hoped to share this several days ago but some things kept me from putting it all together before today… these past few days have been some what emotional for me in light of the shootings at Ft. Hood. It profoundly effected me in a way I can not explain. Watching the service on TV was so very hard. Seeing the boots, guns and helmets standing in a row made me choke with grief for those families. My son is currently stationed in California serving in the Air Force. And I guess it got me to thinking about him and what if this kind of thing had happened to him? How would I cope with such a loss? I am so very proud of him and all that he is accomplishing in his career. He is young and still has much growing up to do after all he is only 21 yrs old 🙂 But I realize that when he puts on his uniform he steps into service…service of my country. He is doing what I had done so many years ago. As my grandfather had done many, many years before that.
Sitting at my grandfather’s feet as a little girl, watching him strum the guitar and sing a song I had never heard before, was one of the joy’s of my young life. Before life became confusing and hard. I believe that is when God placed a love for music in my heart. Pure, simple tunes played and sang acoustically. Those memories are filled with smiles, old stories and old songs, mostly country songs. I loved to hear him sing, he had a great voice. He was my grandpa. It was not until later in my life that I would come to know the details of his life. Let’s see, my earliest memories of spending time at my grandparents house was probably 4 or 5. So it was at age 42 that I actually heard, for the first time, stories of his days spent in Italy in 1945.
It was in 2002 when I began to seriously scrapbook. I went to a Creative Memories crop and learned all about archiving my memories….my pictures. I then learned how to Power Crop…that revolutionized my scrapping…I went from completing a couple of pages a week to completing a 45 page album in two weeks. Yes, within 6 months I had completed 5 baby albums (including my own). The second year that I had been doing this, I was back home in Missouri, visiting my mom and we were going through some old photos of my grandfather in the service. That was the first time the idea came to me about doing a Heritage Album for my grandfather. To commemorate his service in the Armed Forces. Little did I know what I would find for what I did know was that my grandfather had served in the Army Air Corp during WWII. I had only just found that out when I myself joined the Air Force in 1985.
I had taken the pictures back to Texas with me and set about researching his service. It was in 1941 that the Army Air Corps became US Army Air Forces and then in 1947 congress de-established it and created the US Air Force. It was actually kind of cool to know that I was following in his footsteps. I had his DD 214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty). It lists the dates and places members serve during their enlistment. It also lists their awards and medals, promotions, combat service, overseas service and records of training and schools completed. So I had his full military history in my hands. Having served 10 years in the Air Force, myself, I had a better appreciation for what was typed on that piece of paper. It was not just my grandfather, it was piece of history. Not only my history but the worlds. (my grandfather, my mother on his lap and her two cousins 1945)
I had been to Germany and Italy during my time in the service. I got to travel and see some of the places where our troops had marched and battled. Where some barely survived and some died. I had touched the ground where my country men had fought to free the world of evil. There were reminders everywhere I visited. American memorials, statues, military machines and graves. And as I looked at the piece of paper in my hand I realized that we were connected in a way all veterans are connected. No, I did not see combat, as my grandfather had but I wore the uniform. I did not fly in a B2 bomber as he did but I have flown in C130’s, a C5 and sat in the cockpit of an F15. I serviced & hauled service equipment to the F15’s and F16’s as an AGE Mechanic. I stood in formation, saluted, marched and learned how to shoot a .38 and a M16. (Me in 1986 Bitburg AB Germany sitting in an F15 Eagle)
I believe what connected us was that we along with other men and women served something far greater than ourselves. Whether during war or peace time it is not something to boast about in “look what I did” way but something to be humbled by. Even more so when you watch a memorial or a funeral for a fallen soldier. To serve in our Armed Forces is not an easy thing. It is not to be taken lightly or taken for granted by those who don’t even realize the service they are receiving. I admit that when I first signed the dotted line I really had no idea the commitment I was making. I did not understand the fullness of what I was giving. I was naive in what it entailed. It was not until I looked at the album I created for my grandfather that I came to know what it meant to be a veteran of the United States Armed Forces.
My service was not something really to write about, I only mention it because it gives me a perspective to share with you a piece of history…I plan to share more about my grandfather and his service in the next couple of weeks. I have some really great pictures to show you along with some stories…I hope you will plan to follow along, See you then…
Please continue to pray for our soldiers, daily!!!!