by Cathy Brewer-Goodwill

Today, we honor Veterans’ Day. As the holiday approached, I remembered family members who sacrificed not only for my family, but also for their country.

I am an ‘Army brat,’ albeit it was just for a short time in my formative years. When my mother remarried, a proud Army Staff Sgt. adopted her four young children, and I was lucky to call him Dad. I wasn’t born into the life, but was privileged to live the life because of his sacrifices. What man would take on the responsibility of someone else’s four children? A man of honor and integrity who wanted nothing but the best for his new family.

For several years, I lived on an Army base and I was taught what it meant to honor our Armed Forces and to respect the American flag. I also had the wonder and joy of running free on a secured Army base that was protected by men and women who made it seem so easy. But I also remember the immense and overwhelming fear of growing up during the Cold War. I remember the school drills in the event we would come under a nuclear attack. I remember being told to hide under our desks. I remember the makeshift fallout shelter under the stairs in our home, which held mandatory food supplies. I remember I still felt safe because of the thousands of soldiers on that base who protected me.

I remember moving from the north to live in the south, and the prejudices against my family. I also remember no matter what, every soldier watched out and protected each other and each other’s families. I remember these turbulent times as the best times of my life.

My grandfather and uncle fought in World War II, but my uncle didn’t survive. I remember that my aunt never recovered from his death. My father was in the Korean War. A lot of my high school classmates, a cousin and my late husband are all veterans from the Vietnam era. I remember how I worried daily about our soldiers’ safety. I became very supportive of our veterans. I remember the bracelet that I wore to honor a missing Air Force pilot. I remember being overjoyed when he returned home, and I was able to mail him my bracelet. I remember thanking him for his sacrifices. I remember being grateful that my baby son was safe because of their sacrifices. I remember every time I touch the memorial wall in Washington, DC.

I remember every day that their integrity, honor and sacrifices have afforded me my freedom and the right to express my gratitude to our veterans. As we go about our everyday mundane things, remember to THANK a vet. I do, every day. A simple thank you to someone wearing a veteran hat or a uniform goes a long way to letting them know that we are grateful and thankful for their sacrifices.

May I ask that the next time you see a veteran, you remember. May I also ask that you remember our veterans, law enforcement, firefighters, service personnel are the backbone of our country.

I remember. . . Integrity Matters