Tomorrow is Veterans Day and I have the honor of living in the founding city of Veterans Day, Emporia. Veterans Day is a day to honor veterans, both living and dead and those who are presently serving our dear country. These veterans are the reason why we have the freedoms we have today. The reason why we can take pride in our country. They fought and died in the name of our country. And they still are. Whether you believe in war (present or past) you still owe gratitude to these veterans.
This Veteran’s Day I want to stop and honor two veterans who have passed but who touched my life greatly: Warren Ashen (my grandfather) and Robert F. Clarke (a dear, dear friend of mine).
I’ll start with my grandfather. My grandfather taught me so much. He taught me love, patience and instilled in me a love of life and reading. He’s the one who encouraged me to read my first novel “Where the Red Fern Grows.” My grandfather was gracious, giving and a strong father figure in my life. He was gone all too soon. I lost him in my sophomore year in high school. His loss has left a permanent hole in my heart. I treasure the letters I have from my childhood that are handwritten by my grandmother. At the end of each she wrote “grandpa says hi.” Grandpa, you are forever missed. I love you.
Robert F. Clarke we lost just this year in March. He was a very dear friend of mine. Again, a very kind, funny and gracious person. His love for life, biology and the world around him inspires me. Tomorrow we will get to visit his grave. The day we buried him is the day that hole in my heart became even bigger. “Daddy O II” I miss you. I love you. You’ve inspired me so much with your witty laugh, your sense of humor and your caring attitude.
Who among you has inspired you? I urge you to honor your veterans tomorrow, put aside your differences and opinions. Shake their hand. Say thank you. We owe them so much.