Boy, it’s been a long while since I’ve posted to my site. Please don’t think it has been because I’ve nothing to say, nothing for which to be grateful—I’ve been abundantly blessed and continue to be so.
Today, however, being Veterans’ Day, I feel it important to publicly say thank you to every vet who has contributed to the freedom I appreciate every day.
My first experience with a veteran was my daddy. Richard Lee Goodell, Sr. served in WWII and was a plank owner on the Bon Homme Richard.
I remember first hearing the story of Pearl Harbor and then learning my dad had been stationed there. I wasn’t so good with timelines at that age and feared for him and what he might have experienced. I was also thankful he’d made it home safe. Years later I realize he’d been at Pearl Harbor after the fact—he joined when he was seventeen, in 1943 and was a signalman in the Pacific theatre.
His older brother, Bobby—Robert Crockett Goodell, Jr., served in the Army and wrote amazing letters home. I’m blessed to have several of them, especially since he died back when I was a preschooler and I can’t remember meeting him. Creative and funny, his letters helped me get to know him a little. He told a story of a GI who’d been attached to a French resistance group. It was cold and when this GI went out on a reconnaissance run with two Frenchmen, they noted that he needed a hat. The next day, one of the men brought the GI a knitted scull cap. A few days later, word got back that the Frenchman had been killed. My uncle ended the note by saying, “Now every time I reach up and touch the hat, I am reminded of him and his gift to me.”
My dad’s father, Robert Crockett Goodell, Sr., served during WWI and was shipped home on his birthday, the day the Armistice was agreed. It was signed the next day—ninety-one years ago today. I never met my grandfather. He died six years before I was born. But I did hear lots of stories and have one of his diaries from the war. He was a man of few words but he felt things deeply.
Patriotism was alive on my mother’s side of the family as well. Her brother, Lee Johnson, served in the army during WWII as did her sister, my Aunt Alice Johnson Lehman—only she was a Marine. The first and prettiest marine I ever met. Uncle Jim must have agreed when he met her while he was serving with the marines.
My grandfather, Ole Johnson, moved to America from Sweden when he was a teen and became a citizen. He also served in WWI. Again, I didn’t get to meet him because someone took his life after he returned—a murder that never was solved. However, I can just imagine him—tall, blond, kindhearted, but a little stubborn. I’ve searched for a picture of him with my grandmother—my tiny grandmother who was all of four-foot ten, if that, where he was six foot tall—but can’t find it right now.
My mom’s baby sister, Aunt Kay, married a man who served both in the army and the navy. They are still with us though Uncle Bob is recovering from pneumonia. Only tough men serve in both the army and the navy—and he is tough, Tough, and funny and loving. I can’t say enough good about AK and UB .
After my mom (Frannie) died, my dad remarried and I gained more family. When my dad died, my mom (Mary) remarried and I gained my Norman. Everyone should have a Norman like mine—I love him dearly. And he is also a veteran having served in Korea with the 82nd Engineer Pipeline Company.
My Uncle John, Mary’s younger sister’s husband, served two tours in Viet Nam, learning the language. Today he teaches English to Vietnamese here in town. Recently he was able to return to Viet Nam for a visit. He took his daughter along, showing her where he was at when he missed her younger years. A sacrifice they both feel.
So you see, veterans have played an important part in my life from the start. Then I married into the Cary family and my father-in-law, Richard C. Cary, was added to the group. He celebrated his nineteenth birthday with the start of the Battle of the Bulge—a German bullet dented his helmet as a gift. He also met General Patton. He was there when the General came through to check on men during that push through the Arden. The General asked what he could get for them.
As the story goes, no one spoke up so my father-in-law did, “We could use a hot meal.” The next day some trucks showed up and the men saw their first real food in weeks. Months later, after the shooting ended, someone noticed that Dad had taken a typing class in high school and assigned him to the typing pool. When the General showed up for his orders (this would have fairly soon before his accident), my father-in-law was the one who’d typed them up.
Dad said the general looked at him a minute and said, “We’ve met before.”
The general paused a second and then said, “You’re that little @#$% who asked for the hot meal.”
“Did you get it?”
“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.”
Dad could tell some stories, but that is one I tend to believe.
Finally, the latest vet in our family is our “other son” Anthony. Technically he was our son Ian’s best friend, but he is as dear as any son to my heart. He has fought admirably and beyond distinction, doing one tour in Afghanistan and three tours in Iraq. He is due home for Christmas and I cannot wait to hug his neck again.
I could have taken this back to my ancestor, John Crockett, who served during the Revolution or my great grandfather, Lyman Goodell, who lied about his age so he could serve with the North during the Civil War. However, I think you get the idea. With all these wonderful examples of veterans in my life, how can I not be grateful for the freedom they have protected for you and for me? God bless each and everyone who stands in harms way that we might have our country and way of life. And God bless everyone who loves them and waits at home for their return.
Abundant blessings, all.