I made a mistake last week when I did not write about Veterans Day. I realized that fact when my four great grandchildren Tommy, Caitlyn, Jessica, and Jonathon called me from down in southern Missouri to thank me for my service. Apparently their teachers had been talking about Veterans Day in class, and told them to thank a veteran. When they asked my daughter (Their grandmother) what that meant she explained what Veterans Day is all about and added that their grandfather was a in fact a veteran, which is what led to a chorus of little voices on my speaker phone thanking me for my service.
My grandchildren are not the only ones who have thanked me this year. The badge I wear at Walmart as a cashier has a statement that points out that I am a “Proud Veteran”, and prompts many who come to my register at night to thank me for my service. Many of those people are veterans themselves, and I thank them too. It is apparent that those who make that gesture are sincere, which makes the statements all the more appreciated by not only me, but all those who are serving or have served.
As those who read my column possibly know I am a retired Navy man. I joined the Navy in 1955 as a 17-year-old boy and grew up aboard an old destroyer. I had broken service, which means after my first hitch I left the Navy, got married, and had my first child. I then went back in the Navy. I served as a Vietnam-era sailor, but did not go to the war zone during my active duty, and I give extra respect to those who were required to do so. After 10 years as an active sailor, I got out of the navy, and went to work in the civilian world. My navy career however did not end, and was restarted after I was 40 years old. I retired with a total of 24-years of service active and reserve in 1995 after having a heart attack.
I have always been proud of my service, and feel very fortunate that I was allowed to live out my childhood dream of being a sailor aboard a ship. I still believe there is no better place for a young person to find their place in the world than the armed forces of the United States, at least it was for me and a lot of other young men, and women of my time. The world is as dangerous now as it was all those years ago when those my age served, and we are fortunate to have young men and women who are right now keeping us safe by putting their lives on the line every day here and in far away lands.
As I write this, there are four little voices replaying in my head saying “ Thank you for your service,” and it reminds me that protecting them, and the rest of the people of this great country is what makes any sacrifice worth while. Pray for those who are serving now that they will come home alive and whole so one day their children and grandchildren can thank them on Veterans Day.
Jack Miller is a longtime Sedalia resident whose column will run in the Weekend edition of the Democrat.