Have you ever noticed that people seem to think Memorial Day and Veteran's Day are the same holiday, just two different days? It's kind of a pet peeve of my husband's, and I tend to agree. All over Facebook on Memorial Day, you'll see people thanking veterans. While I think it's important to thank our veterans anyway, I know that Memorial Day is for those who died while in service. I don't want to take away any due respect for those who gave it all by lumping the holidays together under one meaning.
That being said, yesterday was Veteran's Day. A day when we celebrate all who have served. Equally important, just not the same thing. I'm grateful to all the people who have served (or are serving still). I know several. My Grandpas on both sides, my father-in-law, my cousin, friends of all ages, great-uncle, co-workers. They are pretty well everywhere I go.
I put a photo on Facebook yesterday of the two that had the greatest impact on my life. That would be my Grandpas on both sides. Both of whom served in the Army during WWII. One in the infantry, fighting in several of the major battles (including Normandy, and the Battle of the Bulge). The other serving in the 12th Army Air Force as a mechanic and driver. Fun Fact: The Air Force wasn't established as a separate branch until after the war. I think in 1947. He had plenty of stories of his own to tell. Both of them were forever changed by their experiences in the war. I should also note here that my Dad's parents already knew each other and were dating. For my Grandma, waiting for my Grandpa to come home was another kind of experience. Those men shaped me into the person I am today. There's no way I could go accurately describe that here. I've written separate blog posts about each of them in the past (neither of which do them justice, but are more specific). The other impact they had on me and my brothers was a desire and a sense of duty to learn about WWII. It seems more real, like its not just a story from a history book the more you learn, especially when you can add in firsthand accounts. My brother feels like he owes it to them to learn as much as he can. And believe me, you could learn just as much from him about different battles, machinery and weaponry than you could from reading a textbook.
One other veteran, who I neglected to mention on Facebook, but has impacted my life in a big way is my father-in-law. He served in the Navy in the 80s and 90s. It's important to mention him, because he (and his wife) are responsible for raising the man I would marry. Their direction and teaching, along with living half of his childhood on a Navy base, have shaped him into the person he is today. My life would be vastly different if not for him, and for his willingness to serve his country and his family. And although my Grandpas are gone now, my father-in-law is still here loving and supporting us and helping to shape my daughter just as my Grandpas did me.
**disclaimer: the little girl in the photo with my Grandpa is my cousin Belinda, not me.