10 Nov, 2023 Honoring America’s finest heroes this Veterans Day
By Summer Lane
Growing up, I had the honor of having a grandfather who demonstrated the true meaning of American patriotism and selflessness.
The son of Yugoslavian immigrants, my grandpa grew up dirt-poor, the youngest in a large family, and spent his early years playing baseball with a broom handle and eating handfuls of meager raisins or salted bread slices to fill the pit of his yawning empty stomach. He joined the military during World War II and also went on to serve in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He was a loud, vivacious, athletic, and fun-loving man who was loved and respected by all who knew him. He was possibly the most patriotic person I’ve ever known, and I think the most poignant memory I have as a kid was when I was living at my grandparents’ house for a period time. Every morning, he would get up early (earlier than I wanted to, as a disgruntled then-teenager) and hum morning revelry to encourage me and my brother to get out of bed (we actually slept on the couch). Throughout the day, he would stop at the corner of their antique piano and squeeze the paw of a small teddy bear with a military uniform. It was a fun little gift that he had received, and the bear would always play the lyrics to one of his favorite songs, “God Bless the USA,” by Lee Greenwood.
My grandpa would solemnly stand while the song was playing, and I’ll never forget the image of this tall, strong, man rigidly holding his salute while the little teddy bear belted out the lyrics to the song. It meant so much to him. He had such immense respect for the Armed Forces and for those men and women who had died defending America’s freedoms. As someone who grew up in the grip of the Great Depression and served through three major wars, he understood better than anyone what the American dream represented. He was never embarrassed to stand up and salute the flag, to put his hand over his heart and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, or to stop me and remind me to pray before we ate in a public restaurant. He was courageous and his love for his country bubbled over into every area of his life. He was, truly, a part of the greatest generation.
Over the years, I have heard the words to Lee Greenwood’s song over and over again, most prominently in my work covering the presidential campaign of President Donald Trump. His entrance song has long been “God Bless the USA,” and every time I hear it, it brings tears to my eyes. The memory of my grandpa, who loved this country with his whole heart, comes back to me every time I hear those lyrics as a reminder of just how important our freedoms are. Just how precious and fragile.
This Veterans Day weekend, I am reminded of how fortunate I am to have been born in America – and what an immense debt of gratitude we owe to our veterans who have given so much to defend it.
RESOURCES FOR OUR VETS
Check out these conversations with Paul Lawrence and Christian Irvine, both honorable veterans, who are working day in and day out to help America’s heroes get the benefits they deserve and need!
American veterans deserve daily thanks for the sacrifices they have made to keep the United States safe and free, so it can be very gut-wrenching when their VA benefits get held up. Thankfully, people like Paul Lawrence are here to help! Paul is the author of the how-to guide Veterans Benefits for You: Get What You Deserve. As a veteran himself and someone who served in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Paul knows the ins and outs of how American heroes can get the benefits they deserve. He explains some of the simple ways vets can submit claims and even utilize the G.I. Bill to further their career opportunities after being honorably discharged.
There are a few problems that are prevalent when it comes to veterans who are both newly exited active duty service and those who have been living in the civilian sector for years. Christian Irvine, a veteran Green Beret and president of the Semper Grati Project, knows the top problems veterans face, and he’s committed to helping them get what they need. He explains the “gatekeeping” that seems to take place at the VA, especially when veterans are trying to acquire their pensions or get compensation for service-related injuries. He also waves the red flag on a few murky non-profit practices that shortchange veterans of the assistance they deserve. Christian additionally gives insight into why VA claims can be so hard to win.
Summer Lane is the #1 bestselling author of 30 books, including the hit Collapse Series and Resurrection Series. She is an experienced journalist and columnist who reports on news within the U.S. and abroad. She is the Associate Editor for Right Side Broadcasting Network. Additionally, she analyzes politics and policies on The Write Revolution.
Summer is also a mom and wife who enjoys rural country living, herding cats, and gardening. She is passionate about writing on women’s issues, parenting, and politics from a theologically-grounded perspective that points readers to the good news of the gospel.
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