Tomb Trippin' is a web series hosted by Jim Hanks that focuses on "reanimating" some of the forgotten stories of American history that can be found buried in graveyards across the country. Come with us as we delve into the past and bring to history to life.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Understanding what it means to be a U.S. veteran, part 1

My dad
The ending lines of one of Emerson’s most famous quotes on living reads, “... to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!”

This Veterans Day we should all try to find some moments to thank all of those who made the ultimate sacrifice to change so many lives of the living and loved here in America. Maybe you have relatives who fought in past wars or are currently enrolled in the armed forces. We honor them on this special day.

I grew up in Warren, Ohio, a working -class, industrial town. I didn’t understand or care too much about history as a kid, just was always wondering what was next for me in my young life. But, when I got a little older and the Vietnam War was going on, so many young men from my town were killed or came back wounded that I, like the rest of the youth in this country, could no longer ignore the realities of losing those you knew and loved.

Uncle Traian
One day, I asked my sweet, sweet father about his experiences in WWII. He was on a submarine doing search and rescue in Pacific waters. He didn’t choose to talk too much about it but did tell of pulling sailors out of the sea to save them. How many lives of men he didn’t even know he must have touched and changed while in service !

His brother, my Uncle Traian, fought in both WWII and the Korean war. My mother’s brother, my Uncle Chuck, also fought in WWII. I miss them all. And now that I am older and wiser as to the contributions they made on this day, I honor them each year.

Whether they were saving lives in battle or simply helping me down from the tree I climbed too high into, they are all everyday heroes to me.

Come back tomorrow for part 2 of our tribute to our veterans. We'd like to introduce you to Louis Van Iersel ....


My dad in his sailor uniform
My mom and her brother, Traian

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