Keeping His Legacy Alive


Kendra Turley, Online Manager

If you have lunch with me, you’ve probably seen or heard me do it. My sudden stop as I enter the lunchroom. My rush to my table to set my food down once I’ve spotted them. My calm walk up to them and respectful shake of their hands. The slight tremor in my voice that has faded with time, as I say the same words that I always do to each of these courageous men and women:

“Thank you for your service.”

The men and women that put their lives on the line for our country are people that I feel do not receive often enough a certain kind of gratitude that they deserve. And I’m not talking about the honors and ceremonies that every person who is a part of our military receives. They without a doubt deserve those awards, but what I’m referring to is much less complicated.

A simple thank you.

Maybe it’s from the elderly man who lost his brother many years ago in combat. Maybe it’s from the woman whose husband is away fighting for the U.S. overseas. Maybe it’s from a four year old girl who knows that her father wears a uniform like theirs, but because she’s so little, she doesn’t understand why she never sees him.

Or maybe it’s from me.

My grandfather was in the Air Force during the Cold War and the Korean War. He had a scrapbook that my grandmother put together with pictures of his team, and his plane, and he would tell the same stories and show it to anyone who had time to look and listen. He had an Air Force baseball cap that he wore proudly every day. I heard about his adventures just about every time I saw him, and even more when the Alzheimer’s disease came. But it never got old.

I can vividly remember times when we were out somewhere as a family, and suddenly Grampy would stray away from the group and over to someone who had clearly served our country in some way, whether it was by the hat they were wearing, or the badges on their jacket. He would shake their hand and thank them for their service, and would spend a few moments talking to that person, no matter who they were. It was awe-inspiring and thought-provoking to watch.

We lost Grampy to Alzheimer’s in January of 2013. When the flag was folded and handed to my grandmother and the guns had finished firing, I remember that despite the sadness and grief I was feeling, pride was an emotion that broke through it all. My grandfather had worked hard for the recognition he got that day. He was the kindest, sweetest, most huggable person I have ever known.

This is the reason why I thank the members of our Armed Forces that take time out of their busy schedules to come during lunch and speak with those interested in joining them. I see so many of my fellow classmates who walk by without even a courtesy nod of their head or a smile. If I don’t do it, then who will? And if my grandfather did it, then why shouldn’t I?

I refuse to let his legacy die. I will continue to shake the hands of the people who have served our country. I will continue to take time out of my day to share a few words with them. But most of all, I will continue to give them the simple thanks that they deserve.

I encourage you to do the same.