Thursday, November 11, 2010

A "Thank You" on Veterans' Day

This morning, Andrew, Livie, and I went to our local Hy-Vee grocery store for our free Veterans' Day breakfast. They have this "cafeteria" inside, and every Veterans' Day since we moved here, they have this free breakfast for veterans on November 11th.

Although we've been here for a couple years already, this is the first veterans' breakfast we attended.

I first want to say "Thank you" to Hy-Vee for providing this breakfast every year. And I want to also say an extra "Thanks!" because this morning, they gave us Livie's breakfast for free, too.

Secondly, I appreciate all the "Thank yous" I got from other diners. I feel overwhelmed by their gratitude, but I also feel other veterans deserve the thanks more than I, like I didn't do enough to earn the thanks. Sounds silly, but it simply feels to me like I didn't do enough.

I did, however, especially enjoy chatting with other veterans at my table, and their spouses, too. When we got to Hy-Vee around 7:30 this morning, it was PACKED! We first checked in, where Andrew and I got name tags (the rectangular sticker kind), where the check-in lady wrote our first names and branch of service, along with a red, white, and blue VETERAN sticker.

Livie got a name tag sticker, too.

She even wore her little Air Force jacket, which got her some fun comments and even a high-five. 

Here she is, posing in her Air Force jacket.

(These photos were taken a couple months ago.)

 We then got in line. When we got to the front, the server greeted us by name and served us. I got eggs and bacon, and Livie got pancakes and bacon. Andrew got something (eggs and bacon, maybe?) in a box.

Once we got our breakfast and sat down, Andrew sat with Livie while I got my coffee, a glass of ice water, utensils, napkins, etc. Then, when I was settled, Livie and I did our usual "Bye-bye, Daddy! See you at dinner, Daddy! We love you, Daddy!" before he took off for work.

So . . . since Andrew took his breakfast to-go, Livie and I were at our table by ourselves. That is, until another veteran (Army) and his wife joined us a few minutes later.

They were asking me about the Air Force, about my experiences, and seemed to have a lot of fun talking to a "new" veteran. The husband seemed to really enjoy telling me about his Army experiences.

Anyway, during those moments when we weren't talking - as we ate our breakfast - my mind wandered and I thought about certain members of my family . . . those who deserve the Veterans' Day "thanks" more than I do. I've been thinking about them all morning.

First of all, there's my grandfather, Sir Rafa, an Army veteran, who led by example and inspired me to join the military. He never hinted to me that I should go into the military . . . it was only after I'd made the decision, did he make his opinion known, simply telling me that I should pick Air Force (which I did).

He also told me stories from his Army days - the kind of stories with the lessons hidden in them, like: always make sure you take care of your feet (have dry socks, and change out of your wet socks as soon as you have the chance) . . . pay attention - listening will help you learn things . . . common sense is important . . . that kind of thing.

Sgt (E-5) R. Q. Torres (USA)
Thank you, Sir Rafa, for your selfless service. You joined the Army willingly, giving everything you had, even suffering serious injuries overseas in WW II before coming home. Sir Rafa, you always told me about all your experiences as though they were grand adventures to be remembered. My Grandfather, you are honored.

Then there's my dad, another Army veteran. I don't have a photo of him in uniform, but I do have one from just before he started his Army ROTC courses.

Approximately 17 years old, circa 1958.

My dad's Army stories had a different flavor than my grandfather's. Their experiences were vastly different. But, while his stories were fun and adventurous (like what he did while on an exercise, as they set up their bivouac), there were still lessons embedded (take a chance, follow what your gut tells you, etc), whether he realized it or not.

I ended up asking him to administer my commissioning oath when I graduated from OTS, because his service was also an influence on me.

19 Nov 1999
So to my dad, I send a "Thank you" on this Veterans' Day, for his service and for his administering my oath, the very same one he took when he was commissioned in the Army.

To the rest of the veterans in my family, a big "Thank you," too! The list: Uncle Chino (Sir Rafa's brother), Uncle Ralph, Uncle Hector, Andrew, and my father-in-law, Harry.

Uncle Chino (USA) is on the right. Sir Rafa and Andrew are obviously posing with him.

Here's my Great-Uncle Joe (USN), with Oma.

Here's my Uncle Hector (USA) - looks like he was an E-1 when this photo was taken.

Here's my Uncle Ralph (USA) - can't see what his rank is in this photo.

Here's Andrew's dad, retired SMSgt Heilmann (USAF).

And here's Andrew (USAF).

Anyway, this is my long-winded, well-deserved "Thank you" to the veterans in my family, as well as all veterans, everywhere.  And again, a "Thank you" to Hy-Vee.

1 comment:

varunner said...

Thank you :-)
I love those old black and white shots.

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