A Veteran’s Day Thanks

This is going to be different from my usual nerd news, review, or cosplay think pieces. This is a think piece about U.S. armed forces veteran’s and my opinions on the best ways we, as people, can acknowledge and thank them for their service. More importantly, it’s an extended thanks to a few vets I know and love. First off, Happy Veteran’s Day! Today, along with Memorial Day, are the special days of the year meant to set time aside to thank the men and women who have served in the U.S. military. They all make sacrifices, and some sacrifice all, to serve the country that we love and cherish.

There are three veterans in particular I want to thank. The first in my grandfather, Erastus Junior Jones. He was an MP during the tail end of World War 2, and was stationed in the Philippines from 1945 to 1946. He never really talked about his time over there, but he did talk about training in Texas. He is currently 90 years old and suffering from the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The only thing my family has of his service are some old photographs, a negative or two, and his black arm band with “MP” sewn on in white fabric. Unfortunately, I don’t have many photos of him due to past computer issues, and I lack any scanned images of him during his time in service.

The second veteran I want to thank is Thomas Jones, my high school history from 2007 to 2010. He once told me that veterans make videos of stuff blowing up to rock music; which is a stark contrast to how us civvies make tribute videos with American flags and photos of soldiers hugging and kissing loved ones on returns home to a sad Alan Jackson song. Mr. Jones, as I still affectionately  and respectfully refer to him, told a few stories to his class about his time during service. Most of those stories involved he and his buddies drinking “Kool-aid” off the base and philosophizing. He taught me a lot about life and history, and some of it has stuck. Personally, I think Mr. Jones has made a larger impact as a teacher than a soldier because he’s still serving our nation by educating our young people. Teachers are the world’s most underrated superhumans.

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Mr. Jones and myself at the Warren East High School prom (May 2010).

The third vet I want to thank is Thomas Grace, the owner and operator of BG Airsoft. He’s a Purple Heart recipient and served in Afghanistan, where his leg was injured and amputated as a result. One of my favorite memories about him involves him making a joke about being so busy that he felt like a one-legged man a butt kicking contest. (It’s funny because he only has one leg, and I felt guilty for laughing at the joke when he made it and then I remembered HOLY CRAP!! HE REALLY DOES HAVE ONE LEG!!! This just goes to show he has a really good sense of humor.) Thomas currently builds and sells airsoft guns and has fun doing it. This year, he organized an airsoft operation with Hell Hounds Airsoft Field in Tennessee. A large part of the funds raised from that event went to Operation Homefront, an organization that provides aid to military families in need. Currently, Thomas is working on selling raffle tickets for an airsoft gun to raise money for people affected by the flooding in Louisiana.

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Thomas Grace (left) at Operation: Behind Enemy Lines VI with the lucky winner of a brand new airsoft gun. Photo is courtesy of JM Photography.

There are a lot of great vets out there, and I want to share my thoughts on how to best thank them. A sincere “Thank you,” a firm handshake, and a straight look in the eye is the least a person can do, and I think it tickles those old war dogs pink to have that interaction with the public. And don’t just reserve those feelings to a couple special days of the year and a Facebook post. If you see someone in uniform out and about or know someone who’s a vet or in currently in the service and feel like thanking them, just do it.

That being said, there’s a whole list longer than my arm of people to thank. A lot of high school acquaintances joined the military after graduation, and I extend my thanks and appreciation of your service to you today, and all days for that matter, as well.

Happy Veteran’s Day, everyone. Thanks for reading. To see more photos by JM Photography (he took the picture of the American flag that I used for the cover image), check out his Facebook page. For more information about BG Airsoft’s raffle, check this link, or visit their Facebook page.

Author’s Note: I am in no way officially affiliated with or sponsored by JM Photography and/or BG Airsoft. I simply provided the links for sources, shout outs, and to help them get a little more exposure. Once again, thank you for reading. 

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