HAPPY VETERAN’S DAY
Happy Veteran’s Day.
This is a very special day for me. One in which I vow never to take for granted. I don’t intend to shake you up with a pretentious melodramatic speech on why I love this country and support our troops, but I do want to tell you why I’m grateful for four veterans who’ve made it possible for me to have one of the most surreal jobs in the world without ever worrying about having my freedom compromised.
Both of my grandfathers (still very much living, by the way), my father and my brother are all veterans of foreign wars.
My Grandpa Ramsey, a marine, served in World War II. I have a very close relationship with him, yet he has memories that, to this day, he’s never shared with me. Through conversations with my dad and aunts, I’ve pieced together some of the medals and injuries that Grandpa received during battle. He’s not interested in talking about it, and he’s certainly earned the right to not have to. However, for how humble Grandpa is, he doesn’t mind telling me – but only when asked – how he met Eleanor Roosevelt…twice, and the time he met Winston Churchill, and the time he was in New Zealand and experienced one of the world’s most beautiful countries from a passenger train.
Grandpa Ramsey is the reason why I’m a baseball man and thus, a Reds fan. I inherited his love for the game. I get it directly from him. He and I still watch games together. So, if Grandpa would rather talk to me about why the Reds “strike out too much” instead of his war experiences, then it’s my obligation to indulge him. He’s earned it and I love him for it. He’s my hero.
My Grandpa Carr (my mom’s dad) was an Army man in World War II. Unlike my Grandpa Ramsey, Grandpa Carr seems to be able to better cope with his memories of battle. His medals are in a framed case, prominently displayed in the house in which he and Grandma have lived forever. Now in his 90s, Grandpa still actively participates in Veteran’s Day parades and memorials. His favorite ball cap is one that reads “WWII Veteran.” I can’t think of anything that makes him more proud than knowing he fought for his country. He is also my hero.
My Dad followed in his old man’s footsteps and enlisted in the Marine Corps. Not soon after, he found himself serving in the Vietnam War. Thankfully, he wasn’t on the frontlines but he did see things that I don’t ever think I could handle seeing. Just like a true Ramsey man, Dad doesn’t talk too much about his time in combat, but unlike his father, it’s not because the memories are too painful, rather, he’s simply indifferent to it (or so it seems). I’ve never once heard Dad (genuinely) brag about anything he’s accomplished – despite his many accomplishments. I’m sure he’s proud of himself, but it’s easy to tell he’s more proud of his family. And in turn, I’m so very proud of my dad. He’s also my hero.
My brother spent nearly 20 years in the Army without ever having to experience the reality of war. Then came 9/11, which presented an opportunity to fight the War on Terror. At nearly 40 years-old, he did everything but get on his hands & knees and pull on the leg of the President to beg for a chance to serve his country in Iraq. He eventually got his chance but it didn’t take long before “Bub” (that’s what I’ve always called him) saw that war isn’t fun. He served nearly a year in Iraq. He was in battle and saw people die. He also saved fellow soldiers’ lives by pulling them out of an army truck that had been attacked by enemy gunfire. Bub is currently in Afghanistan, working as a civilian at an Army base. He once told me that I’m not cut out for the military or war. Whether I agree with that or not, he’s done his part in making sure I never have to find out. Bub, too, is my hero.
It’s weird being the only man in the family not to experience war, or boot camp for that matter. But because of the four men I just listed, I won’t ever have to. For that I’m very grateful. I love them and I love this country and I’m so very appreciative of the men and women who continue to put their lives on the line for my freedom; our freedom. So as I type this from my cushy office high above the main entrance of Great American Ball Park, and not from a battlefield in some country very far away from home, I encourage you all to take a moment today to appreciate the things you have – the things that are exclusive to living in the United States of America.