I consider myself rather lucky. I have an abundance of veterans in my life that have fought for our freedom and have worked for something bigger than themselves, something that’s rather rare.
My great-grandfather, Keith, was a WWII veteran. He built prosthetics for his fellow soldiers in need. My great-uncle Jose fought in Vietnam, my great-uncle David fought in Korea, great-uncle Larry was in the Navy, and one of my closest friends in high school, Ruby, served in the National Guard.
The biggest veteran presence in my life is my dad who served in the Washington State Army National Guard for about six years.
My great-grandfather and two of my great-uncles are no longer with us, so I remember them and their time in the military on Memorial Day, however, I don’t think I would have taken Memorial Day quite as seriously as I do if it weren’t for the lessons from my old man.
My pops would often regale my siblings and I with tales from his tanker days by singing to us revised, mom-approved cadences, stories from being cooped up in a foxhole, and sage advice from some of his brothers in arms.
When I’d have a particularly awful day, Dad would look at me quietly for a moment then he’d grin and say, “Remember what Murphy says…” I would smile back at him, feeling my sour mood melting away.
Murphy would often tell my dad that people weren’t the greatest in the blunt and crass way soldiers do and Dad passed Murphy’s wisdom onto me.
We still say “Remember what Murphy says” to this day. It reminds us that we can’t change what people do, only how we react to them.
My dad also taught me to respect veterans, always making sure his children stood up in revered silence when the color guard marched in parades.
He taught us to respect our National Anthem, a tune that I know by heart and to observe Moments of Silence.
We also put our flag up in front of our house for national holidays and make sure to bring it down at sunset, without it ever touching the ground.
Much of how I remember the veterans in my life, living and deceased, is due to what my favorite veteran taught me; I hope we can keep teaching our youth the importance of those who served our country by observing this Memorial Day safely.