Thank you for your service I Editor's Note

By Brandon Gustafson | Nov 15, 2017

Veterans Day has passed, and with that, I’d like to share a few thoughts regarding the holiday.

First, I want to briefly talk about the controversy regarding some NFL players kneeling or sitting during the National Anthem.

I’m not going to dive too deep into that here, but I’d like to say that I feel that when these players do so, they are not trying in any way to disrespect members of the armed forces, or the flag in general, but are simply trying to bring to light issues around the country that get overlooked and brushed aside a little too easily.

I was happy to see that Michael Bennett of the Seahawks and his fellow defensive lineman stood for the Anthem before their Thursday night game last week ahead of the holiday.

Now, I’d like to share my thoughts on Veterans Day and what it means to me.

When I was younger, I, like many of my fellow classmates I’m sure, didn’t fully grasp the meaning of this holiday. I know that for me, it often meant that I had a day off of school where I would play video games with my older brother.

It wasn’t until the one immediate family member I had who served in the military passed away that I came to terms with what it relly is all about.

My great-grandfather, Lester Gustafson, was in the United States army during World War II.

Born in 1916 on a small farm in North Dakota he, like so many others, enlisted for the second World War.

He returned home with a purple heart after being wounded in the Philippines.

Pretty impressive, right?

Well, what makes it all the more interesting is that he probably shouldn’t have made it back to the United States.

While serving in the Philippines, he and a few of his fellow soldiers were in a foxhole when an enemy grenade dropped in and killed everyone in that foxhole.

Everyone that is, except for my great-grandpa.

He lost one of his legs and was seriously wounded.

He returned to the United States, married my great-grandma in North Dakota, had three kids and then somewhere along the line I came along.

He lived until 2012, passing away at the age of 95. That’s pretty miraculous for someone who could have easily passed away nearly 70 years prior.

I would see him every major holiday, he was always cheerful and would listen to me and my siblings babble on about what we got for Christmas from Santa and all that.

I have really fond memories of him playing the accordion for my family members and me. Man, was he ever talented!

I was 17 years old when I went to his funeral, and one thing that I remember thinking to myself that day was that I never got to thank him for his service.

Another thing I always think about is that he could have easily died, and then I wouldn’t be here. That’s a direct bloodline to my grandfather, then down to my dad and then down to my sister and me. It’s pretty easy to connect the dots and think about, and it still gives me the heebie jeebies.

So, to all those who have served or are serving, I’d like to say thank you. No amount of thanks can ever repay you all for your hard work and sacrifices, but I hope it gives you some feeling of satisfaction.

And, to my great-grandpa, I want to say thanks for being one tough guy. I’m not sure if they have Internet in Heaven, or if you have any Beacon carriers, but maybe you can read this and smile, knowing I still think about you all the time, especially on Veterans Day.

 

 

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