Remembering Uncle Jack on Veterans Day

My Uncle Jack was a rather unassuming man. He loved to fish, hunt, and watch the Dallas Cowboys on TV. I remember countless Sunday nights hanging out with his two children, and sharing a birthday cake with him on several occasions because we had the same birthday. He was a dedicated employee at Thomasville Furniture Industries, and enjoyed woodworking. A quilt rack and footstool he made for my family are among some of my most treasured possessions. But there was another layer to my Uncle Jack that I rarely got to see.

Like many veterans, my uncle Jack rarely spoke of his time as a US Marine in the Korean War. From time to time I would see a picture in a photo album or hear him recount his experience in a military hospital as he recovered from a wound he sustained in combat. As a child I didn't have the capacity to truly understand what it meant to be a soldier in a war. It was something you just didn't discuss.

As the years pass, my respect for my uncle Jack and so many others like him grow exponentially. Their attitude of "service above self" is so desperately needed by all of us (including me) in our country today. You don't hear them brag about their achievements in the military. In fact, you rarely hear them speak of their service unless they are around others who have served in the military. I didn't even know my Uncle Jack received the Purple Heart until I read it in his obituary.

When I moved to my current home in 2003, one of the first things I did was put up a flag pole. It's just so easy to forget what it means to be an American, and I am as guilty as the next person for getting so caught up in my first world problems. Now as I drive out each day and look up at the flag, my thoughts immediately go to Uncle Jack and others like him who daily put their lives on the line to ensure that I can live a life of freedom.

To all veterans today I say, "Thank You" for your service and sacrifice. If you're anything like my Uncle Jack, you're a "salt of the earth" kind of person.