I have always been a big supporter of veterans. I have a family full of veterans from my father to my nephew and many relatives in between.
Many of my friends and acquaintances are also veterans.
When we embarked on the D-Day project to mark the 75th anniversary of the invasion that was the turning point of World War II I believed we would get many names of Crossroads veterans who served.
And we did – more than 300 names.
But what I didn’t expect was the amount of love and dedication I would hear from spouses and children of deceased veterans who brought in the information on their family member.
They beamed with pride as they retold stories they had heard over the years and swooned with love as they showed photos of their men in uniform, many commenting, “Isn’t he a handsome guy?”
One woman insisted we include her husband’s medals because he was proud of earning them.
A son brought in his father’s paperwork, medal, photos and many other documents that filled a tote bag. He was proud of his father and the upbringing his parents gave him.
A daughter was upset she did not have her father’s rank. She knew when he served but didn’t know his rank. She made a special trip to the veterans’ affairs office in Victoria to find out. She proudly showed the document that revealed the lost information. She also realized her father’s birthday and the date of the attack were the same day – he turned 22 the day the invasion began.
As the stories came in throughout the past week, I learned a lot about the men and women who served our country. Some made it home, and some weren’t so fortunate.
Many are alive and nearing the century mark in life. Imagine the history that each one has lived.
I remember the first veteran to walk in with his information. With his wife on his arm, 92-year-old Forest L. Jones proudly handed me the information written down in his handwriting. We talked a little, and I thanked him for his service to our country. He smiled and said, “Thank you for remembering.”
While talking to several veterans and their families, I could feel a lump forming in my throat and my eyes starting to water. I felt their pride.
I was truly grateful to all the veterans for risking their lives to keep our country free.
I also felt an immeasurable amount of pride for my family members who served and continue to serve our country.