Love & Pride: What Veteran's Day Means to Me
The memories I have spending time with my Grandpa Morrow as a child are some of my most precious, and ones that shaped what Veteran's Day means to me. They're what inspired me to lead a cause, make an impact every day in veteran's lives, which is what we strive to do at Wellness Wishes.
My Grandpa served in World War II for about three years as a pilot in the 71st Liaison Squadron in the Pacific, mostly in Burma. He had lots of memorabilia from the war, three jam-packed photo albums from his time there, and seven medals, including a purple heart, air medals and distinguished flying crosses. As a kid, I would play with these things and look at those pictures for hours as he told me stories. He had a ham radio and I would love it when he would talk to men from his squadron. He had one that was in Seattle, and being from Columbus, Ohio, it was so exciting to talk to someone so far away. He stayed close with everyone in his squadron, and they had annual reunions that he would go to right up until the time he passed.
I would sometimes try and organize or display his things, including his medals and wondered why he just kept them in a big trash bag and let me play with them? But that was how he kept his memories, tucked away. As an adult now, I realize he was battling demons, a time before PTSD was a common phrase, and he dealt with them in his own way. I like to believe I was some sort of therapy for him - he would talk and tell stories to me for hours (the only time he would talk about the war), and I would listen intently until I had to go to bed.
He passed away when I was sixteen, but I often say that one of my wishes would be to have one more day with him. I'm fortunate because I have all of his personal items, pictures and memorabilia from the war. I carry his wings with me every day and another piece that I hold even closer to my heart.
Ultimately, my Grandpa taught me so much about veterans through his stories and actions. He remained a true friend and loyal to all the men in his squadron, even so many years later, until the end. He would have flown across the country to be at any of their sides if they needed him; and he always held a special place in his heart and an undying devotion to them. It was his feelings and emotions that always made me curious as a child, and came to understand better little by little as I grew.
I'll always have a special respect for the men and women who so selflessly give to their country, bravely facing the unknown; and I'll always have a special pride for my Grandpa in the pilot and man he was.