Archive for the ‘Deep Thoughts (deeper than normal anyway)’ Category

So today I will deviate from my normal technical comments to take an opportunity to honor our US Military Veterans.

A few years back I met a good friend of mine after work and we did some fishing. He was usually ecstatic to get out on the boat and get his line wet. This day he was a short of weary and run down. After about 20 minutes of this I asked him what was up. He told me nobody had wished him a “Happy Veterans Day”, as he is a veteran of the USAF. He spent numerous years serving, took fire in Central America, left his wife in the middle of the night many times for deployments when he could not tell her where he was going or when he’d be back.

I worked with an officer in the US Army. He was a miserable guy. Very ornery, borderline rage monster some days. Many folks sort of dismissed him. As part of his career, he was deployed 9 times, 4 of them to war zones. He had been shot at, had lost a number of comrades and a number of troopers under his command. As a parting gift, his wife (also in the US Army was station) on the other side of the world. He rarely saw her for three years.

I worked with another outspoken gentleman. He was former US Army. He tended to annoy folks as he was very loud. He also had a rather unique temperament. I took some time to talk with him. He served 2 tours in Iraq. Both his trips ended with a mission ending injury from IEDs. His last one, he was hit in Iraq, and did not wake up till he was in Germany. His hearing was partially damaged from the explosion.

I also heard of an inactive member of the USMC who was a family member of a coworker. He was looked at as lazy. One of those guys who always had a hurt back, folks figured he was faking it. He was a bit quick on angering when he left the USMC he took some grief on his “mental issues”. Come to find out, his last tour in Iraq, he was in a convoy that was hit with an IED. His armored Humvee was lifted off the ground and rolled off the road with him and his comrades inside. His friend who was the gunner on the top of the vehicle was not so lucky. In shock, this guy went out on the road and began picking pieces of his friend up off the road.

I bring these stories to light because most of us have no idea whatsoever what our vets do and what they have sacrificed for us. We mumble “Happy Veterans Day” on Facebook, and a couple emails. We give grief to the vets on the other 364 days of the year if they don’t adjust back to civilian life quite right and we have no true respect for their sacrifice to this country. Many of them still bear scars internally, that will never heal. They did this for US. So on Veterans Day, my ask is this, LOUDLY thank our veterans for their service, shake their hands, let them know you mean it. On the other 364 days, try to consider some of these stories, try to imagine how many other stories like these and worse there are in this country and take some understanding and compassion and help these folks out. They have more than earned it.


           When my grandfather recently passed away, I got an opportunity I never thought I would ever get. I volunteered to put together his memorial film. I did this by pouring through photos, and letters from his entire life. I spent a lot of time with my grandfather growing up. Got to know him pretty good. He was quite the quiet man. The type that says little but when he did speak you listened cause he didn’t waste any words (A trait I would do well top adopt). 
            He grew up a simple farm boy. In Getzville, NY. Never finished high school. As WWII was heating up, and when he was finally of age, he enlisted in the US Army. He was assigned to the 609th Tank Destroyer Batallion, which was part of Pattons corps. He was shipped right to Europe, into the battle of the bulge. His unit was one of those that ran in and helped liberate Bastogne and save what was left of our troops in there. After that he and his unit fought across Germany into Austria. Along the way, he saw many people die in horrific ways and he himself came under direct fire more times than he could remember. He saw the first jet aircraft (ME 262) strafe his column. As a machine gunner, he tried to shoot it down but those guys had NO idea what that thing was and no way to hit it. At the end of the war, his unit, like many others was marched through a concentration camp. the idea was if so many men saw with their own eyes, the carnage in those places, nobody would ever forget, and hopefully history would not be repeated.
            He came back to the states, took a job with international paper.  He had 3 children. He worked 2 or 3 jobs to make ends meet. Any work on the house (including pouring a driveway) he did when he was not working. His oldest child and only son died at age 18 in a tragic swimming accident. From what I understand it changed him quite a bit. He did not like to talk about it much. When his plant got shut down, international paper moved him to Wilson, Maine where he worked until retirement. We used to go up there once a year to visit with him and my grandmother. Even as busy as he was, I remember he still would cut and split his own firewood (which was quite a lot to get through a Maine winter). He had a nice sized garden. When his mother-in-law took ill he moved her in and they took care of her.
            After retirement he moved back with his surviving daughters and grandchildren (4 of us by then). He never missed a family event. Visited often, and was one of the most handy people you have seen. There was not a job he would not tackle, and he frequently went to my Aunts and my mothers house to help out with jobs from building a deck, to fixing a faucet. He was awarded an honorary high school diploma, something he treasured more than most people value their MBAs. He also recieved a medal from New York State, for his service to his country in WWII, they held the ceremony at the VFW.
            He passed away in January 2006 from complications arising from Aspestos that had built up in his lungs from all those years he spent working for his family. His wife was at his side. 
           His entire life, like many in the WWII generation, he worked to get what he had. He worked harded than most people today have ever worked. He never took any attitude to what he thought he was entitled to. He never asked for anything from the gov’t despite the fact that he gave so much to it. He came from almost nothing and throughout his entire life, built a family that included 3 kids, 4 grandkids, and to date 3 great grandkids (only one of us has had children so far). He lived his entire life without public assistance, without whining, without a single peep about what he was owed for his service to this nation, his job, or his family. He has been a model for me almost my entire life and one of the driving forces I have always had was to make him proud of me. I only hope my grandkids can say some of the same about me when I die.