The story of my wife’s great uncle – Ralph Ignatowski – gave me a renewed appreciation for our veterans. If you’ve seen the movie Flags of our Fathers, you caught a glimpse of “Iggy’s” story. If you read the book, then you know more details about the gruesome things he endured before his young life ended at Iwo Jima.
I’m told he was actually too young to enter the service, but the desire to serve his country took over and he lied his way into the Marines. He wasn’t alone. I’ve heard that many young men did the same in those days for the chance to fight for the United States of America.
The sacrifice of so many men and women has come even closer to home for me recently. My brother-in-law, a captain in the Army, is almost finished with his second tour in Iraq and should be home just in time for Christmas. A great Christmas present, indeed.
His wife and two young kids came to visit us for the weekend a few months ago. His daughter Isabelle and my oldest daughter Madelyn were going to sleep in the same bed. Of course, there was a bit too much talking going on and not enough sleeping, so I went upstairs to settle them down. Isabelle asked me to lay with them and I told her that they didn’t need me to lay with them because they were big girls.
That’s when she broke my heart.
“I miss my daddy.”
I almost cried. At that point, she hadn’t seen him in about a year. It reminded me of the reality that military families face and the incredible sacrifices they willingly take on for the rest of us. I take for granted much too often the comfort of my own life. And, embarrassingly, I don’t regularly stop and appreciate what these brave men and women have done for me and my family.
I hope we embrace Veterans Day while looking for opportunities to thank our veterans. But I hope we don’t stop there. I hope it drives us to remember them each day and look for ways to show our appreciation year round.
All our lives have been touched in some way by our military servicemen and servicewomen. What comes to your mind on Veterans Day? Whose story is front and center for you?
*Image from Wikipedia.