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Saluting My Veteran, My Brother

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Veterans Day seems to be one of those ‘half-holidays’.  Nowhere near as big as Christmas or the 4th of July.  A lot of people just roll on through their November 11th, and many don’t even know what day it is, other than another work or school day to get through.

That’s not ‘just too bad’.  It’s truly sad.

So I want to take a minute and acknowledge ‘my’ Veteran.

He enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1968.  For some, 1968 is ancient history, years before they were even born.  For others, it was ‘the old days’, perhaps not totally forgotten but deep in the mist’s of yesteryear. And for many of us it meant war, it meant Vietnam.

I was 13 when he boarded a plane in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and flew off…well…somewhere.  Turns out it was a place called Lackland Air Force Base in faraway Texas, near San Antonio.

I was sure at the time that he was the only one going there.  Turns out he was one of thousands that received their basic training there.  But that didn’t matter.  He was my Veteran.

It was a number of weeks later that we went back to the Sioux Falls airport.  My Veteran was coming home on ‘leave’.  When I saw him step off that plane, it was confirmed.  He was a member of the United States Air Force.  He had on the uniform, shined shoes, hat….I don’t know exactly how he felt, but I can tell you this, I was so proud the buttons on my shirt probably were about ready to pop off!  I never told him that of course.  I pretended to be casual, or as casual as a 13 year old farm kid can be.

I think my Dad may have had just a little mist in his eyes, too.  He was 48 that year, a World War II Veteran himself.  And he wasn’t the kind of guy to show emotion, not at all.  But I’m thinking there was a little lump in his throat as he watched our soldier get off that plane.

My Veteran was just 18 years old back then when he came off that plane.  Sometimes I think maybe he left for Service as a tall, gangly farm kid and came back as something different….something more.

I never told him out loud I was proud of him.  I’m not sure my Dad or Mom did either.  Well, maybe Mom but where I cam from, you didn’t say things like that out loud.  It’s too bad, but that’s the way it was.  But I know my Dad was, you could see it.  And I still have the chance so…

To my Veteran, my brother Larry, I’m proud of you and love you.

Oh, and thanks for your Service, not just today but everyday.

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