“The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.” – G. Nelson
I have two grandfathers who are veterans. Two men. Two husbands and fathers and sons and friends. L.J., age 82, and C.B., who died more than 40 years ago.
My grandfather, L.J. (we call him Joe), stood at the end of our pew at church yesterday morning and I took the moment in. My wife and I and our children have sat beside my grandparents in this church pew nearly every weekend for the past 23 years. My grandfather stood because it was our church’s annual opportunity to recognize and thank military veterans like him for their service and sacrifice on our behalf – as Americans, as a community, as a family, and as a free people.
He is a little slower to rise than last year. His hands grasp the back of the pew in front of him and he stands and steadies himself. Knowing him, he is a bit uncomfortable…not because of age or worn out knees, but because of honor. He and the friends of his generation who stand near him here do not like to draw attention to themselves, especially for their service to the country. He did what was asked of him. “What more do you need to know?” he says.
My grandfather C.B. would have been 90 this year. Though I never knew him, I can imagine him standing there at the end of the pew as well. He is tall and bespectacled with a wide smile. His hands grip the pew in front of him and he steadies himself…
These are my grandfathers, the patriarchs of our family, the kings of this tribe, the authors of this family’s story. Though one is here and the other is no longer here…they are here. Their dreams and their sacrifices and their labors and their legacy are with us still. They served. What more do you need to know?