Today, on Veterans Day, I honor my grandfather. And Michael Wendling. And two college friends.
My grandfather served in World War II. I don't know the story behind his service. All I know is that he served overseas, was injured and awarded a Purple Heart. He was a man of few words and didn't speak about his military service and he passed away before I was old enough to realize what he did for our country.
I didn't know Michael Wendling, but I attended his funeral at a hilltop cemetery on a warm October day in 2005. Wendling was killed while serving in Iraq with the Wisconsin National Guard when a roadside bomb exploded near the Humvee he was driving. The images from that simple, yet powerful, graveside military service are still etched in my mind. And every time I hear a bagpiper play "Amazing Grace," I am reminded of Michael and that day.
My friend Beth spent a year with her National Guard unit deployed to Kuwait and Tim is awaiting a deployment. I can't put into words what their service to our country, both what they've done and that they had to guts to do it, mean to me.
To all the other veterans, thank you.