Monday, November 11, 2013
Today I dedicated my long run to all the Veterans. I thought about them every step of the way.
I thought also of my relatives who have served, and I wanted to relate one story in particular that made me a little extra emotional.
My grandfather served in World War I when he was barely 18 years old. This young man (not much more than a boy, really) from small town Ohio left his home and family and traveled to Europe to fight. He was young and innocent; his mother made him promise not to drink alcohol before he set off.
He had an important message that needed to be delivered as quickly as possible during a battle. It was impossible to run with a gas mask on, so he removed that protection and ran breathing in mustard gas with every step until he reached his destination and collapsed.
At first he was not expected to live. Then he was told that he'd never be able to exert himself because of the lung damage. He managed to survive and thrive. He married and became a father to my father. He lived to almost 91 years of age sharing his wisdom and strength with humility at all times.
He was given a Purple Heart for his service. He was always proud of that award but never let that be the pinnacle of his life. He worked hard every day.
He's been gone for over 26 years now, but his influence lives on.
Even as his story affected me profoundly, I thought of many, many other men and women who sacrificed even more. And all the sacrifices big and small made by all our veterans that have benefited me and my family.