I was honored yesterday by being asked to be the keynote speaker at the Lake Township – Walbridge, OH Memorial Day Service.
The mayor, Ed Kolonko, and I are good friends and he been asked to speak, but he deferred to me – thinking it more appropriate to have a Veteran speak. That was very gracious of him…
After I agreed to speak Ed told me to limit my presentation to 5 minutes or less. He said ‘the old guys’ get hot out there at the cemetery. “Well okay,” I thought to myself, “but it will be hard!” I then mentioned to Ed that reading my ‘bio’ would probable take more time than 5 minutes! I meant it in jest.
As I formulated my thoughts I decided to focus on a phrase I frequently hear: “Thank you for your service.” What does that really mean to me?
What folks do not realize is, it was truly my “honor” and privileged to have served. Not everyone chooses to serve, and there are those who would like to serve but for one reason or another, are unable to serve. So I consider myself so very fortunate.
This was more or less the essence of my presentation. When I noted that I had a bit of time to fill, I shared an experience I once had with Keith. Keith is a Crew Chief at the Toledo (Ohio) Air National Guard. One afternoon he got called in to duty. As it turned out he was babysitting his son, Noah. So he called and asked if I could watch Noah for a couple hours or so. No problem.
Just after Keith dropped off Noah I heard a pair of F-16s launch. Now, there is a distinct difference between jets taking off in a training posture and when they depart on a ‘no-shit’ mission. This was not a training sortie. Those boys left the jets in burner, and were going for ‘smash’ (airspeed). I knew right away what it was about, and I could feel my blood boil! Gawd I wanted to be with them! Instead I was looking at Noah’s ass, changing a diaper!
“Gawd,” I thought to myself, “the things I do for the security of our nation!”
Obviously that got a chuckle, then I turned back to the purpose for the gathering – the honoring of those who gave their lives for us.
I then mentioned that when I see flags in our cemeteries I think about the men and women who sacrificed their lives for me – men and women who were much better than me. I then borrowed a line from Joe Galloway’s YouTube presentation, “God’s Own Lunatics.” I told the folks that when I see those flags over our fallen comrades as I walk through those cemeteries, I can hear them tell me, “We are at peace, and so should you be – and so should you be.” And today, I am.
I concluded my remarks with a salute, thanking the Veterans in attendance for their service to our nation.