Its veterans day. On this day, my mind always reflects back to my Grandpa Yoakum and his attitude towards his country. You see, Jesse “Pappy” Yoakum was a Veteran, and he understood exactly why he fought for our country. He never really spoke of the horrors that he had witnessed, but I assume he saw terrible things. He had a nasty cough from inhaling mustard gas, but never complained. It was only just before he passed away that I learned he was a sniper at one point. You see, Grandpa and most others his age, rarely discussed the job they were asked to do overseas. What Grandpa Yoakum did bring back from the war was a deep understanding of Freedom, and Patriotism. Those words have taken on an almost derogatory meaning in this age, but for the men that went to war for our country, they are two words that held a meaning that many of us will never understand.
One of my favorite mental images of Grandpa Yoakum is one of him standing in the middle of the living room floor, saluting the flag on TV as the national anthem was played before a baseball game. You see, for Pappy, the act of standing up was no easy feat. His legs were crippled from age and a scaffolding collapse that left him hobbled. If you happened to be in the room at the time, you rose and put your hand over your heart in silent reverence, or risked being swatted across the shins with his cane. He was not a mean man, it was just vital to him that you respected the symbols of our nation and its enduring freedom. These symbols were there to remind us of what we have, and how we fought to get it and keep it. Men like Grandpa Yoakum understood why we must occasionally go to war to ensure our freedom, even if it is in another country that seemingly has nothing to do with the U.S. Today, I will fly “Old Glory” and remember men like Grandpa Yoakum, and all of the men and women that sacrificed their time, health, and even lives for so that we can be a free nation.
Happy Veteran’s Day, and God Bless America!
The Atomic Dawg