A Veteran's Blessing
My dad served in the Navy reserves for seven years and was on active duty for two. He was a "Radar Man" on a Radar Picket Ship or "DER" (Destroyer Escort Radar) and his job was to monitor air traffic and watch for missiles threatening the fleet. Growing up, I didn't understand much about Navy life.
I knew it wasn't a cruise, but they DO have the sharpest uniforms in the military!
I couldn't picture much, but I imagined my father's ships as the "three hole" guys in Battleship. I recall Dad saying the food was so awful he had to put ketchup on everything, and that he hung out with a bunch of guys who were part of the Navigators. They were the ones who encouraged him to read his Bible and probably are why Dad's Bible is still being held together with duct tape.
Otherwise, I had the vague impression that Dad liked his time in the service.
So while I know why Dad dumps half a bottle of Heintz on scrambled eggs, I didn't recall many of the important particulars of his service. In light of today, I thought I should ask him for more details, so I gave him a call.
As soon as I asked about his time in the military, Dad jumped into the dialog, but he didn't start with a story, he started by quoting a song...
"Count your many blessings,Name them one by one.Count your many blessings, See what God hath done."
A nice thought, but I didn't really catch the link to my question.
Our conversation progressed down a wandering path and I learned about his attempt to enlist when he was 16 and how my mom would take care of his steer when he was absent for extended periods of time (I did NOT learn what those chores were like, but I'll circle back with mom later!). I learned how he was nervous about losing access to the GI bill and the community of guys that he bonded with on the ship.
For a while, I wasn't sure where exactly all of this was heading. Then he paused, maybe aware that I wasn't catching his drift.
"You see Joy, being in the service always felt like a high honor. It was so full of blessings!"
He was counting his blessings in our chat, making sure he acknowledged that serving our country was a gift. The gift shaped his faith, funded his education, and allowed him to join a community of honorable men and women. While serving was no walk in the park, it was so formative, he can't help but count all of the blessings that started during those years.
While Dad appreciates the "thanks" which Veteran's Day holds, he is mostly humbled that God would give him the chance to serve.
Giving is, in his experience, better than receiving. And that makes me proud of my Dad.
Whoever the vets are in your life, you should be proud as well.