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Well, today I'd like to honor three very special veterans in my family. I know there are several more in my family, including cousins, uncles and the like, but there are three that I felt need special honoring today. I'd like to introduce you to them.
Grandpa Reyburn is the only Grandfather I ever knew. He joined the US Navy during WWII in 1945, two weeks before the Japanese surrendered. He always used to tell us when we were little that "when they heard I was coming, they all gave up." He'd wink afterwards and we'd laugh.
Grandpa Reyburn served the United States faithfully through 1948, and then again 1951-1952. Not only was he a wonderful sailor, he was a wonderful man with upstanding character and a great sense of humor. He met my Grandma Reyburn at a Naval dance party. I always remember Grandpa for how he teased us, how he put up with us constantly jumping on his bed at exactly eight o'clock (when we were permitted to wake him up), and all the fun trips he took us on.
This Spring, Grandpa passed away after years of battling heart failure. He would have been eighty-eight this year. Grandpa and Grandma Reyburn had one child and over a dozen more- they fostered at least eighteen kids or more in their lifetime. My Dad and two uncles were three of their foster children. Grandma and Grandpa Reyburn not only call us their grandchildren, they treated my Dad and uncles as their own sons and gave them the best childhood they could offer. If it wasn't for my Grandpa Reyburn, I don't think I would be here today. He and Grandma gave Dad a chance and loved him with all their heart. I firmly believe that if it weren't for them, my Dad wouldn't have become a Christian and probably would have never met my Mom.
Today I thank God for my wonderful Grandpa, the only Grandfather I have ever known in my life, and for the legacy he left behind. Thank you Grandpa for your service to our nation, thank you for your service to your family and for being such a wonderful and Godly man. Thank you for raising my Dad and teaching him "The way he should go". I miss you and love you dearly.
Uncle Bob is my Dad's older brother. Bob was in the US Marines and served in Vietnam during the Vietnam war. It was there he was exposed to Agent Orange and was left permanently disabled.
Uncle Bob is one of two real uncles I have. (The rest of them are my "adopted" uncles who are my Dad's foster siblings. But they count as uncles! :D) I met him for the first time when I was twelve, after he'd disappeared for several years after Vietnam. My other Uncle, Uncle Ernie, searched tirelessly for him. He never gave up his search for Bob. About eight years ago he called my Dad up and told him excitedly, "I found Bob! And he's alive!"
The three brothers reunited, and us kids were able to put a face with the name. He didn't even know about any of us- the last time he'd been in contact with his brothers was not too long after my Dad had first married my Mom.
This summer, Uncle Bob passed away after years of continued bad health from the Agent Orange chemical and throat cancer. He spent the last ten years or more in a wheelchair. His service to our country landed him in that wheelchair. It gave him such bad health. But he was proud to be a veteran, and he was proud to have been faithful to the military to the end. I'm so glad I got to meet him, even if it was only once. And I know he's up in heaven with Grandpa Reyburn, free at last from his pain.
Thank you Uncle Bob for your service to our nation, for answering the call to defend your country. Thank you for being a wonderful Uncle to us in the time we got to know you, for the sweet birthday presents you sent us and for the letters you wrote to our family. Thank you for looking out for my Dad when you were young, for helping Uncle Ernie make sure you stayed together as a family, and for being such a great friend to Daddy. I miss you a lot and love you. Thanks for everything.
Aaron is my second to oldest brother. When he was eighteen, he joined the US Marines. I will never forget how proud of him I was. I was six at the time and I thought Aaron was so strong and "grown up". He passed through boot camp and was deployed to Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, and even Russia. He served his term and was given an honorable discharge.
Aaron has always been the big brother that all little kids wish for. He would play with us, build Legos, was an awesome babysitter (sorry Mom we disobeyed and turned off all the lights when you told us not to!), showed us lots of different movies and never failed to make us laugh. Between him and my oldest brother, there was never a dull moment in our household!
Aaron is and continues to be a strong part of our family. When my sister R. was diagnosed with cancer, Aaron moved back from Seattle to our area and has been helping us ever since with all the things Mom and Dad can't do while dealing with R's treatments. Aaron is the reason that I became interested in Russia. He sent us our first ushanka, taught me how to say "good day" in Russian and talked about his time there. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't be so fascinated in that country! He's taught me so much.
I am so glad that God gave Aaron to our family and that he is our brother. Thank you, Aaron, for your service to our country. Thank you for being so brave in the face of possible war, for joining even though you knew you may be sent to the Middle East, and for serving the marines faithfully while you were deployed overseas. You mean so much to us. Thank you for being you.
I know it's not Memorial Day today, but I wanted to honor my Grandpa and Uncle who passed away this year.
I'd also like to thank my Uncle Ernie and the numerous uncles, aunts and cousins who have served our country. Thank you for being so brave as to defend us. Thank you for your service. Thank you for being you! I love you all.
Happy Veterans Day to all the veterans, those who are still with us and those who have passed away. You mean so much to all of us. Thank you.
God Bless America.