It was February 11, 1942. Just lightly over two months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Don Weedin – who celebrated his 17th birthday just the day before – dropped out of school at Bremerton High School.
That morning, he boarded a ferry with his parents and enlisted in the United States Navy. He needed his parents permission because he was under 18 years old. He wanted to go on his birthday as he was eager to enlist; she made him stay and celebrate his birthday with his family. His older brother Max Jr. was already in the war. Grandma feared that neither would come back to her.
Dad served in World War II and for a total of 30 years. He loved the Navy and would have stayed forever if he was allowed to. Growing up as a youngster in the 1970s, the attitude towards veterans and those serving was very different. It was post-Vietnam and at least in my memory, being in the service didn’t have the same level of gratitude. I never could understand why Dad didn’t have a diploma, but rather something called a GED. It wasn’t until I became an adult that the immense nature of his sacrifice began to sink in. Fortunately for me, Dad lived a long life and I was able to express to him my sincere gratitude for his service. He was part of “The Greatest Generation” that Tom Brokaw wrote about. Where once I was ambivalent as a child, today I’m proud.
We all have stories like this to share. My family has deep ties to the armed forces – my father-in-law and sister-in-law were Navy; my brother was Army; my brother-in-law and sister-in-law were Coast Guard; and I have a nephew currently serving in the Air Force. Dad was able to trace our family lineage back to three direct descendant grandfathers that served in the Revolutionary War.
Veterans Day is unique because it’s a day to honor all veterans. Dad was always strong in his belief that Memorial Day was to honor those that gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives. Veterans Day is clearly a day to celebrate everyone that ever served.
So for those family members that served or serve – thank you.
To my friends from high school and college that served or serve – thank you.
To those that I will never meet but know that because of you, I get to live in a free country and be able to raise a family and run my own business – thank you.
God Bless America and all veterans….
P.S. My most special thanks to Don Weedin, my dad, who finally got to graduate with his granddaughter Mindy and get the diploma he so richly deserved in 2007.
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