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A Family Of Veterans

A Family Of Veterans

I guess when other people think of veterans they think of old men in wheelchairs with American flags in their hands. Or soldiers running in cadence. Or a soldier in dress blues receiving a medal from the president.

When I think of veterans, I think of my mom’s long black hair tied expertly into a bun. I think of my dad showing me the size of a bullet and making me try on his backpack. I think of my biological dad and his serious expression, eyes wide, in his Marine picture. I think of my aunt standing in her graduation gown at UT Austin.

My mom. My dad. My biological dad. My aunt. Her girlfriend. Two of my cousins. My grandfather. My great-grandfather. Navy, Army, Marines. Do I come from a military family? I suppose that’s undeniable. I like to think that I come from a family of veterans. My mom once told me that the last three generations of my family served in the military, and I take a lot of pride in that. Of course, I’ve broken that tradition, but hopefully I’ll do something else equally amazing.

I have trouble communicating the amount of respect I have for veterans. My childhood was spent listening to my dad’s various military adventures (and not just the normal ones—ask him about the time wolves saved him from the Devil) and the various crap my mom had to put up with when she enlisted. And everyone has military buddies. I can’t remember everyone’s name, but sometimes it seems like my parents have a large, mysterious network of contacts.

If I go on for too long, I’ll get all sappy, but I do want to share a small story. When I was 12, my dad went on a several-month-long tour (I forget how long he was gone). It was weird not having him around. He was there, but not there. It’s a kind of absence that’s hard to describe. Months later, my mom told me that we had to go to the airport to pick up my aunt. As it turns out, we actually had to pick up my dad, who walked out to meet us like it wasn’t a big deal. It was like those things on YouTube you see when a soldier comes home and surprises his or her family. Only, it happened to me. And it happened before YouTube.

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And it was kind of beautiful.

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