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I don't have a Veteran

Two stories, separated by sixty years.

2023: Granddaughter After School

I pulled out schoolwork the kindergarten teacher had put in my granddaughter’s backpack. I noticed a paper with a large star. Printed inside the star were three blank lines:

Name of Veteran

Branch of Service

Peacetime or Wartime

My granddaughter explained they were learning about Veterans Day. Students would bring back their star filled out with the name of a veteran, and they’d be placed on the Wall of Honor.

“I don’t have a veteran!” my granddaughter lamented.

“Oh, yes you do.” So, I told her about a special family veteran and how I was her age when I learned about Veterans Day.

1963: Veterans Day Program set-up

Dad opened the car door and helped me with my Barbie case. We walked towards the double doors of the school. Dad was helping set up for the Veterans Day program—as an Air Force veteran, he always volunteered.

“You can sit here while I help the men.” I opened my case and began to play. But I was also watching the men move tables and chairs. One man limped as he placed the American flag on the stage. I was learning the flag salute in kindergarten.

A couple men were carrying in boxes, and they noticed me playing in back.

“Who’s the little girl?

“That’s Bob’s daughter.”

“When I see kids, I’m glad I served.”

Later, I asked Dad what the man had meant.

“He served overseas so kids like you could enjoy their lives at home. That’s why we honor them on Veterans Day.”

Airman Robert Kramer, 1955 Okinawa, Japan US Air Force

So, I finished by telling my granddaughter that her great grandpa, after serving overseas, became an Air Force recruiter on evenings and weekends. He believed in a strong military and wanted to keep serving our nation.

We wrote the name of my father on her Veteran star. As she colored it, we didn’t talk about war, or politics, or the evil that makes war a reality. Instead, we talked about our freedom and how veterans made it possible to live the way we do.

It’s about sacrifice for those you care about. Thank you, Veterans.


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