I have the great fortune of being the father of a son who is a senior at Syracuse University, and a top-ranked cadet in their Army ROTC program. From day one, he has taken to the program like a fish to water. Quite frankly, it’s in his blood; it’s what he’s meant to be. One only need to talk to him, or observe him for just a few minutes to understand he’s Army through and through.
One day, God willing, Matt will be one of the veterans we salute on this very special holiday.
As I reflect on this day – Veterans Day 2015 – I can’t help but think about what this day means to my family. My dad served in the Army during the Korean War, and my wife’s father was a member of the Air Force.
The military traditions that now accumulate on Matt’s shoulders don’t end there. They go as far back as this country does. Solomon Wixon, Matt’s ninth great-grandfather, was a Minute Man in the Continental Army. His son, Solomon Wixon Jr., was part of a rifle battalion during the War of 1812, and there are two ancestors – A.B. Reniff and Jesse Soper – who fought for the Union in the Civil War. Less direct military ancestry includes a third-great uncle that served in the Spanish-American War, and a great-great uncle that fought and died (and is buried) in France during World War I.
I realize that ours is not the only family with this kind of lineage. We are one of what I am sure are thousands of families scattered across this great country with proud military histories. Each of us have our own set of stories to tell, and all of us share the common bond that is the defense of freedom.
I wish I could personally thank my long-since gone grandfathers for their service to our country. I do not know what their reasons for enlisting were, and I never will. What I do know is that because they did enlist and fight, my family can live in a land where it is ok to speak your mind and pursue your dreams. If you are going to fight for something, I can’t imagine a more noble cause.
For the one family member that served this country and is still alive – Dad, thank you. No matter how insignificant you may consider your part, the fact is that you were willing to lay your life on the line not only for your children, but for your grand-children and their children. There is no greater expression of dedication and love.
Whether you do anything in observance of Veteran’s Day or not, just remember those who served did so for you. I cannot be more proud of my son for carrying on the cause of his ancestors, and after reflecting on the meaning of this day, I cannot be more proud of all of those in whose footsteps Matt now walks. Thank you for your service. Thank you for your sacrifice.