Once upon a time, there was a young man in a small boat. He was tasked with ferrying men in arms from their huge ships to the beach, dropping them off and returning for more, over and over again. He'd spent months practicing how to make the trip, land, deliver, unload, repeat as efficiently and quickly as possible.
That beach was Omaha. The man was my grandfather. And many of those men he dropped off didn't ever get to come home. One died in his arms, trying to disembark.
My grandfather made it and pressed eastward, eventually meeting my grandmother in Vienna. He recounted this story once, for a national oral history project capturing first-hand accounts of WWII; it was the only time I've ever seen him cry.
Throughout American history, there are thousands of stories of harrowing sacrifice and daunting service in our efforts for independence, union, and freedom. There are many currently stationed around the world, away from their families, facing real battle and risk. Today, on Veteran's Day, we celebrate as a nation those men and women and give thanks for their sacrifice and service.
Their families, too, share in the sacrifice as they single parent, manage home repairs, weather illness, and handle other necessities alone on the home front, all the while worrying about their loved one's safety. And sometimes, they learn the worst and have to endure it.
I'm so thankful for these men and women and the families behind them.
I'm proud to know that my family and my husband's have served in our military for many generations, in peacetime and in war, when their country needed them to keep peace, protect our freedoms, prevent genocide, and free others.
I'm indebted to them all today and every day, year round.