To Our Veterans

To Our Veterans

My Dad, Richard John, a Veteran who served in Vietnam.

I owe a lot to two very important men in my life: my grandfather and my dad.

Our country owes them a lot, too.

The thing is, neither of them ever talked much about their time serving our country.

My grandfather – who I called Pa – served 22 years in the U.S. Military. He served in the Army during World War II, and after the war, when the Air Force split off as the newest branch of the military, he went with them. He had a wife and five kids, and the family was stationed in a lot of different places. He retired from the military, then went to work for Milwaukee Road Railroad in St. Paul, eventually retiring from the railroad, too.

Pa and I spent a lot – a lot – of time together when I was growing up. He taught me how to ride a bike. He bought me a dirt bike. He always took me in, no matter how badly I’d messed up. He bailed me out of a lot of jams – more than he should have, to be honest. I can never repay my debt to that man for all he gave me and his family.

Pa didn’t talk much about serving in the second World War. It wasn’t until after he died and we went through his papers that we discovered from his military documents that he was named a war hero. Under fire, my grandfather rescued some personnel who were pinned under a rolled Jeep. We never knew anything about it.

My dad, Richard John, also served our country. He was drafted to go to Vietnam when he was a very young man. He doesn’t talk much about his time there. I respect that. “War is always terrible,” he said recently. 

When he came back from Vietnam and got together with my mom, Richard became my dad. We always liked each other. He took me hunting and fishing, and he’d bring me to his brother Art’s house, where there were vintage VW bugs and motorcycles. You might say I learned to love hanging out with the guys in the shop from spending time with Dad and his brother.

We drifted apart for awhile, but when I started coming around to see him again after so many years, we fell right into place together. Today, Dad and I are closer than ever. He has shown me how a man can show up for his family, how deep and important those family bonds are. 

My grandfather and my dad have both shown me – through their lives – what service and commitment look like. I am the grateful recipient of their sacrifice to our country.

To all our veterans today – thank you.

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