My great grandfather - a man I always knew as very old, a man who loved me to death and called me his little Patreesh, he made me fried hot dog sandwiches with spicy hot mustard, and let me run crazy and play in his garden, a man who died when I was 8 on a day I will never forget. He served in WWI and raised 2 wonderful sons - one being my grandfather...
My grandfather - who was always my biggest supporter - who encouraged me, supported me, bailed me out a time or two. Who was ready to step in on my wedding day and walk me down the aisle when my dad was torn between being with me and being with his own dying father. A man who encouraged me to go to college, to give it my all. He cheered at my promotions, my triumphs, he was so proud when I started back to school to get my MBA. He died in 2003 on a cold day in January, I got the call that he was going and to come quick. I got on the road as soon as I could and drove like a mad woman from Cincinnati, OH to Kingston, NY. I got to the hospital at 2:30am and walked in his room. My mom was asleep in the chair next to him. I squeezed his hand and told him I was there and that I loved him. He never woke up and took his last breath moments later. I felt he held on for me to get there maybe so my mom would not be alone when he passed. Another day I will never forget. My grandfather was part of The Greatest Generation - the generation who built the country I call home. My grandfather served in WWII on the ground in Europe. He never talked about it to anyone.
My father - so many good things to say about my dad and I've said them before here. My dad who will do anything for me, a man who is gruff and tough on the outside but will say "I love you kid" everytime we talk on the phone. My dad was drafted into the Army at 18 and served during Vietnam, he did one tour of duty and was thankfully stationed in Germany at a radio tower where he never saw the horrors that so many who served in Vietnam were faced with. My dad's accident in 1999 is a big part of the reason I live in upstate NY today. I realized how precious life is, how easily his could have been gone and that I wanted to spend as much time as I could near my family.
My uncle - an extremely successful businessman who always inspired me to try harder, and push to be the person I wanted to be. He enlisted in the marines when he graduated from college and served and was wounded in Vietnam. A man who looks and acts very much like his father - my grandfather who I loved so dearly.
My father-in-law - who passed away before I was really his daughter-in-law, he served during the Korean War era. I didn't know this man as well as I would have liked but the things I have learned about him after his death, and the son he raised who is my partner,let me know that he was a good man, an honorable man, and someone to be admired.
My husband - in the airforce from 1984 to 1994 - was in combat during Desert Storm, received a bronze star for valor. The man I pin my future hopes and dreams on, the love of my life. Today is our anniversary - what is more fitting than marrying a veteran on veterans day?
For all of the veterans in my life - and all the veterans out there - thank you for your service, your sacrifices, the protection you provide, what you are willing to lose to protect the freedoms we treasure, I salute you.