On Veterans Day

Military with FlagI grew up in Western Pennsylvania. It has a high concentration of Italian Americans. But, after a few years of marriage, my husband and I relocated to Beavercreek, Ohio, which is very near Wright Patterson Air Force Base. The area has an incredibly diverse culture, mainly because of the influx of people from several different backgrounds and nations. While we lived there, I met people whose ancestrage was from Vietnam, China, Korea, Syria, Iran, the Netherlands, Mexico, India, (and yes, Italy too)… all over the world. I even learned to speak a little Dutch while I was there. (Thanks, Iris!)

I treasure my time there because my children were exposed to such rich and varied cultures. They also learned the importance of military service while we were there. Many of our friends’ families were employed at the base. As much as we admired what we learned from others, that doesn’t mean we don’t still treasure our own history.

My husband and I are not first generation Italian Americans. It was our grandparents’ and our great-grandparents’ generations that settled here. But they brought with them a sense of duty, honor, and love of country that Italians feel for their homeland, and that is the environment in which my husband and I were both raised. Both of our fathers were in the Navy. We have grandfathers, uncles, and great-uncles who served this country proudly.

Strong values are not a tradition that our families have said goodbye to. We and our siblings are raising our children the way we were raised, with the same code of ethics and honor that our families instilled in us. My niece took those lessons to heart. She is currently in the Navy. Given the state of foreign affairs, my first reaction should be abject fear for her safety. But it isn’t. It’s pride. Yes, part of me is frightened for her, but mostly I’m honored that she would put her needs and wants aside to serve her country, to protect me, my family, her family and friends, and the millions of other people she’s never even met. It’s humbling to think that she, and so many like her, would give so selflessly.

Today isn’t about whether you agree with the wars that are being or have been fought. Today is about thinking of and thanking those soldiers who have made a difference in your life, whether you realize it or not. Their sacrifices, and those of the families they’ve left behind, have given us the freedoms we currently enjoy.

To you, past and present military personnel of America, I thank you. Know that I don’t take your sacrifices for granted, and I offer up prayers for you and your families. May God bless you.

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10 thoughts on “On Veterans Day

  1. My grandfather’s brother was first generation, but he wasn’t in this country long. He served for US in WWII in European campaigns, but never made it home. He was KIA in Germany, and its amazing that he was in America only briefly, but served this country and made his ultimate sacrifice. I have many reasons to be proud of my family name…

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    • And you should be proud. Many people tell derogatory jokes about Italians and military service, but all the Italians I know (both relatives and acquaintances) are honorable people with a strong sense of duty and loyalty. I’ll add your great-uncle to my list of people to pray for.

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    • I love those old photos. They serve to remind us of so much. Everytime I go home I try to spend some time going through the photos that my parents have… sometimes I even get to go through the ones my grandmother has. Those family members never truly leave us. Not if we keep them alive through our memories, show our kids those photos, tell them the stories. I’ll add a special mention for your dad and uncle to my prayers.

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  2. Very important message, Staci. When I watched the Steelers last night, they had veterans on the field for the Star Spangled Banner. I was so proud to be a citizen of this great nation. I don’t believe in war, but I honor and respect and pray for those who unselfishly give of themselves so we can avoid another world war. My heart gives a wave to them all.

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  3. Traci,
    Well said on both points – the importance of remembering and honoring the sacrifices made and the importance of nurturing the values of pride and duty in the next generation.
    The pride you have in your niece touched home with me, my nephew was graduated from West Point this May and his first duty station will be Korea as a tank commander. As yours, my prayers go out to our family members and all our service people.
    Bart

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