I can’t say enough, today of all days, how much I appreciate the service of the men and women of York County and beyond to our country in the Armed Forces.
The last few months have been filled with reminders in my life of close friends and family members who have served.
The pastor who baptized me, a lifelong Yorker who joined the Army in 1941 and was wounded at Anzio. He wrote me a letter last December, telling me a bit about his life and including a note that he remembered me – one of 589 people he’d baptized in his work as a United Methodist minister. After all his service, that he would remember me meant a lot.
A very good friend from high school, who came home in early October after 10 years in the Air Force, most recently serving in Afghanistan. I didn’t know until he got home where he’d been assigned, and I’m so thankful – I’d have been even more terrified than I already was for him.
My brother-in-law, who recently attended the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the Expo Center. As a kid, I knew he was in the military, but didn’t really think about it much. As an adult, knowing more than I used to about what went on in Vietnam, I respect his service so much more.
My eighth-grade Algebra teacher, who came into the newspaper’s office toward the end of summer. I wasn’t sure he remembered me, but he told me the one thing that made me sure he did – “I remember you, and I remember your daddy, too.” He and Dad served together in the Army Reserves for many years. Next to his dedicated service, the big hug he gave me was the best gift I could imagine.
And most of all, my father himself. He’s been gone since 1993, but he’s still the first thing I think of when I think “USA.” He enlisted early – lying about his age – to fight in Korea. He served for many years in the military police. He went everywhere – including to Italy, where our family is from. And once he “retired” from active duty, he joined the Reserves, where he did supply-chain training up until the year he died. Amazingly, he was called to active service again in the first Gulf War, back when I was in elementary school. I was going through my scrapbooks just the other day and realized I still have all the newspaper clippings of every detail of that conflict, and all the letters Dad sent me while he was away.
Wrapped in all these people is the gift of service to country that most of us might never fully understand. I’m thankful to everyone who serves, and today of all day, my thoughts are with our service members, their families, and the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. My life in York County is a happy one, and for those of you who’ve traveled far from home here to keep it so… my endless thanks.