This post is republished from November 11, 2008
Veteran's Day is the perfect day for my children to think about and honor their grandfathers, both Korean War Veterans. Discussions and assemblies at school peak their curiosity and their questions are the perfect opportunity to ensure that the memory of these two men live on in their grandchildren.
My father served in the Navy and was very proud of his service to our country, completing his tour as a decorated hero. I have always been proud that he continued to serve this country throughout his life as a champion of workers rights, long after his years of Naval service were complete. A legacy that I strive to live up to every day.
His love of country led him to enlist in the Navy and after spending those years at sea, his love of the ocean led him away from his midwestern upbringing to Boston. Whenever we asked him why we did not live near our cousins, whom we missed dearly and looked forward to visiting every summer, he would always reply: "This is the place to be. If it weren't, we wouldn't be here." and as a young girl, that answer seemed more than sufficient. Of course now, I cannot imagine living more than a short ride to the beach, so I guess he was right. Every time in these two years since his passing that we head down to the National Cemetery where he was laid to rest, I am in awe of the beauty of the site. Despite the sadness that the cemetery represents, I am always glad that it exists as a fitting and worthy tribute to those who have given so much for this country.
My father-in-law, also a veteran of the Korean War, enlisted in the Army. I cannot begin to comprehend the horror that he must have experienced during his service. I just know that it affected him deeply throughout his life. His courage and experiences during the war earned him more medals than I have ever seen, other than those displayed in museums and galleries. To have these medals in our possession is a great honor and a reminder that much was given on behalf of this country. We took the medals out of storage to display in my son's room when he was still a toddler. When my own father saw the medals, he was deeply moved by the honors received by the man he never met. He said that he would like to be the one to prepare the medals for display in the case that we purchased and we of course said yes. To see my father take the time to properly highlight each medal in the case with such thought and care made me realize what a precious piece of our family history was being created. My son is slowly coming to understand the valor and sacrifice that this piece represents. That is likely the greatest legacy that could ever be handed down from two grandfathers to a grandson.