Today is Veterans Day and speaking as a veteran, I can’t help but to think of my fellow brethren who served and are still serving our country. It is with fondness that I reflect upon my military service. I chose to join the Army, just as my father and grandfather did; though, my motives were to take advantage of the GI Bill, not the then-present day war.
One of my fondest memories is during the hurricane Andrew relief effort in 1992. Initially it was thought that this was a category 4 hurricane, later upgraded to category 5. I only mention this to try and build a sense of the aftermath and utter devastation I witnessed; I have never seen anything so horrible in my life.
Yet, there is a bright spot in this story. Upon hearing of the need for help inFlorida, I volunteered to join a company of Combat Engineers (I was an Army Medic) and assisted with the clean up efforts. We were working in an unknown neighborhood and while they took a break, I began walking around the neighborhood. I remember seeing this 5 year old Hispanic boy watching me walk down the street. It looked as if he had a stick in his hand and pretending it was a rifle. I didn’t think much of it until I walked back up the street to find my unit. His dad came outside and waved me over from across the street. I couldn’t figure out why he had a camera in his hand and why the little boy was so antsy. His father explained that his son wanted to be a soldier one day and asked to have his picture taken with me. I can remember looking down at the boy and him looking at me with hopeful innocent eyes. The father took one picture with his camera and one with mine. Overjoyed for his son, he then thanked me and shook my hand. To this day, I still have the picture of that little boy on my desk at home; judging by the expression on his face, there is little doubt that I made his day.
With the holiday season quickly approaching, I have much to be thankful for. I am very grateful for our nation’s heroes who are serving and served our country. I hope you will take time to thank a veteran today.
Neal Nolan, CFP(R)