This is a piece that I wrote as a tribute. A small thank you for those who have given so much. I have a wonderful wife and two sweet little girls that mean the world to me, and I couldn’t imagine having to leave them for months and months to go somewhere and have my life threatened on a daily basis. But some people have. Some people do have what it takes. And I salute each and every one of you who do.
My grandfather was a veteran of the Korean War. He rarely talked about his time there, but when I was in 10th grade, I had to interview a veteran for a school project. I can still remember the night when I went over to his house to ask him the questions. It started somewhat formally, but it quickly devolved into a series of funny and interesting stories that I’d never heard before. My normally-serious grandfather was smiling, laughing, and sharing some of the funniest and scariest moments of his lifetime. When he died a few years ago, untold stories and memories went with him, but those few stories that he shared with me will be passed on for as long as I can recall them. Today you’ll get a tiny piece of them.
James Eubanks was young. Too young. His older brother Thurman joined the military, and he wanted in, too. After rubbing his birth certificate strategically with some dirt, he was able to fake his way into the Army. Basic training usually goes by for many soldiers without incident. Not so for this young man.
In an attempt to have a little fun one evening while his friends were out and about, he went night skiing with one of his buddies. It’s quite difficult to see a frozen piece of barbed wire when you’re flying down the slope by the moonlight. One second he was humming along and the next he was screaming in agony. One of his skis had caught in the barbed wire and turned his leg sharply, breaking his femur. So much for getting into the fight quickly.
After a few months of recovery, he was ready to go and took off for Korea. He had some close calls and some interesting times, but one of the worst things he could remember was the deep cold of a winter night in country. If he and his squad were able, they would find a small house for shelter and take turns patrolling the countryside before returning to warm up.
The homes had a unique heating system that pumped heat under the floors to heat the entire structure. Well, one night they were taking shifts and as each group came into the house, they would toss a handful of fuel into the furnace. The night kept getting colder and colder, and the house kept getting hotter and hotter. Finally someone realized that the furnace had caught fire and everyone poured out into the bitter cold to escape it. They watched as the house, their only shelter, burned to the ground before their eyes. Realizing what silly, stupid thing they had done, they began to laugh uproariously. That merriment is probably what kept them all warm enough to survive another night.
My father in law is another one of those selfless people who took time away from his job, family, and life to go to Iraq for over a year. While I haven’t had the conversations with him that I had with my grandfather, I still deeply appreciate what he did for his family and country. I have a hard time deciding whether I want to go away for a weekend to a conference. He drops everything and goes halfway around the world for more than a year with only a moment’s notice. Veterans are a totally different type of people, and I’m so thankful that I have the opportunity to show them the appreciation they deserve.
They’re people, too
I also want to share a video I saw recently that hit me hard. Watching the news and hearing reports of the far flung battles across the world dehumanizes this war. These aren’t faceless machines. They aren’t soulless monsters. We need to remember that it’s our family and friends over there fighting for us. Email subscribers need to click through to view the video below. Bring a hankie.
Thank you to those who fought and will continue to. I can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate you.
If this touched you in some way, please share it with someone. We could all stand a good, solid reminder of what these men and women have sacrificed for us.