This past Memorial weekend, my Dad, Frank Hall, and I were out on a drive to one of his Mom's favorite haunts, the Old Mission Peninsula. It was a beautiful Sunday, just past noon so we decided to grab lunch at the Peninsula Grill. We settled in, placed our order and were chatting about memories of the "good old days," especially of picking cherries at many orchards throughout the Grand Traverse region. Back then, kids didn't have to look very far or hard for work!
As we sat chatting and enjoying lunch, a young boy, about three years of age, approached our table, walked up to Dad with his outstretched hand and stated "I want to thank you for saving our country!" Dad shook his little hand and thanked him. As he went back to sit at his family's table, Dad and I looked at each other in awe and amazement. I had a lump in my throat the size of a grapefruit and a bit of mist crossed my fathers' eyes. "What did he say?" Dad asked. I repeated the boys' remarks.
Being a veteran myself and having worked at the Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette, I had heard many expressions of appreciation to veterans for their service but never as accurate as the one expressed that day. 'Thank you for saving our country'
Dad was wearing his favorite veterans' hat that day. It reads WWII Veteran U.S. Army Air Corps. I approached the table where this child sat with his parents and younger brother. I asked his mom if she had heard what their son had said to my Dad. She said she hadn't, but that he had learned to thank veterans when recognized and has received no prompting to do so. She mentioned how he spotted Dad's veterans hat and just wanted to thank him. I told his parents of their sons' remarks and I thanked him for making Dad's day very special.
Reflecting back on that day and the greeting shared, it is one that can be said of all veterans of that era who fought and scarified so much for all that we have and share today. Additionally let us remember our moms, grandmas, aunts, nieces, and cousins who left their homes to go work in the factories during the war to ensure our GIs had what they needed to get the job done!
Finally, thank you to the parents, relatives, friends, and teachers who pass on to younger generations the respect and appreciation our veterans have earned and deserve for their honorable service to our country.
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Dave Hall grew up in the Grand Traverse region, graduated from St. Francis in 1969, served during the Vietnam War era, attended Northwestern Michigan College, worked many years at the Traverse City State Hospital/Arnell Engstrom Children's Center, and retired from the Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette. He currently resides in the Central Upper Peninsula.