A lot is written about our veterans, and deservedly so. I have nothing but gratitude for those who serve our country through their military service.
A lot is also written about The Greatest Generation. My grandparents were part of this generation. Both my grandpas fought in WWII. My maternal* grandpa (the one who lived next door) briefly fought in World War II, and then also in the Korean War (I've written about his brave combat service here). My grandma didn't fight in the war. She didn't work in a factory. She wouldn't have ever identified with Rosie the Riveter.
But she raised four kids. Often without my grandpa around.
"Well," she said, "I just did it because that's what I had to do."
And that was that.
This Veterans Day, I remember not only my grandpa who served 20 years in the Army, but also my grandma, who raised a family while my grandpa served. She may not have earned a purple heart like my grandpa did, and she never climbed the ranks to achieve "Major" status, but her work was still vitally important. She loved the Army, even if that meant the Army made her job a little harder sometimes.
Many, many years after my grandpa retired from the Army, my grandma had one last role in supporting my grandpa's military service.
The Army that had made her responsibilities so much more difficult those 20 years my grandpa was in the service gave her one final task, one that was perhaps the hardest of all.
She took the flag, held it tightly, and listened to the soldier solemnly thank her "on behalf of a grateful nation and the United States Army" for her husband's faithful service.
I'll never forget seeing my grandpa's flag-covered casket, or watching the young soldier present the tightly wrapped American flag to my grandma, or hearing the gun-salute crack through the cold February air.
Forever I'll remember the sacrifice my grandpa made.
Forever I'll remember my grandma's sacrifice as well.
For both I am profoundly grateful.
*Corrected from an earlier version that read "paternal grandpa"