Veterans Day is a time when Americans should honor those who have served our country. It’s often confused with Memorial Day, which is set aside to honor those who died serving their country. Veterans Day is for all those who have served in the armed forces and their families.
Every Veterans Day I always make sure I text or call my dad and tell him thank you, as he was a storekeeper second class in the Navy. He served on the U.S.S. Hunley in Scotland and also on a hydrofoil squadron in Key West, Fla.
Yep, that’s right, we’re a Navy family. My dad served, I have three great uncles who were sailors and I will soon be a Navy sister, as my brother plans to take the final step in the enlistment process next week.
My uncle — my dad’s brother — took a different branch and served in the Air Force, working on B1B Lancer Bombers. Needless to say, my family has always been proud of the military. My dad always says the Navy was the best time in his life, and soon my brother will be the next generation to serve.
It was no surprise when Will, my brother, hit his senior year in high school and broke the news to us that he decided he wanted to enlist instead of going to college first. My brother has been interested in the military, and specifically the Navy, for as long as I can remember.
Anyone who knows Will knows that if you want to know anything — and yes, I mean anything — about WWI, WWII and the Vietnam War, you can ask him.
He’s not your typical 17-year-old. I was always proud of Will because instead of his heroes being celebrities or athletes, my brother looked up to actual heroes — war heroes.
Instead of wanting an autograph from a famous football player, my brother was absolutely thrilled the year he received an autograph from Bill Guarnere — one of the men that the television miniseries “Band of Brothers” was based on. My brother collects, medals, guns, uniforms, patches — anything you can think of dealing with war memorabilia. So it’s no surprise that he, too, would want a uniform with his own name on it.
My dad and brother share this passion so much so that we always tell my dad he could have been a great history teacher (and whenever any one of my high school teachers wanted time-period actual war memorabilia to show to the class, they always asked if my dad could come in and give a presentation).
Veterans Day is something that we take very seriously in the Trester household. Honoring those who have served is special to us, and I always think of the time that our family took a little vacation to Oahu, Hawaii. While the sandy beaches and warm temperatures were a perk, we weren’t there for the sun and sand. We were there to visit the historic Pearl Harbor site.
I’ve never really seen both my dad and brother so stoic. They took this moment extremely seriously. As tourists walked up and down part of the ship that you could still stand on, my dad and brother kept looking at something over the side of the boat.
When my dad called me over, he pointed to a small hole on the side of the boat, and it was leaking oil. Yes, still leaking oil.
I’ll never forget when he turned to me and said, “Look, she’s still bleeding.”
That was an emotional day for us. I know the men that died that day were around my age — the age that my dad served in the Navy, and the age that now Will will serve. Those boys are still in their tomb to this day.
So I ask all of you today to take a moment and remember all who have served, continue to serve and will serve this great country of ours.
As for my brother Will, as they say in the Navy, fair winds and following seas. Have an adventure of a lifetime. I know you’ll do great, and we’re all so proud of you.