Eugene Roe, my Father, died January 14, 1983, after a yearlong bout with lung cancer. At first the doctors thought it was emphysema. Oops. Thank goodness your generous support of the American Cancer Society and Relay For Life has brought diagnostics and treatments of cancer a quantum leap forward since then. No cure yet. But there will be.
Gene was a World War II vet, but his heroics started much earlier. To support his family, my Dad did everything from wearing an ape suit at a Paris, Kentucky theatre to promote the movie “King Kong” to working on the railroad
All the livelong day. Anything to put food on the table.
By the time I came onto the scene, our family (Mom, Dad, sisters Sandy and Robin…Chris wasn’t born yet) lived on Kentucky Street, and Dad was working as a painting contractor along with his partner, Harry Poynter.
Dad and Harry worked more hours than one should have to – from dawn to dusk including weekends. Dad would come home and I would rush to the door, raiding his lunch pail for any peanut butter and crackers left uneaten from the day.
My brother Chris saw action during Operation Desert Storm. He and his Abrams tank crew ate sugar mixed with dried coffee grounds to keep going for the 100 Hour War. Home of the free because of the brave, indeed.
Moving on to President Trump. I saw on Twitter that the President awarded the Medal of Honor to retired Master Chief Special Warfare Operator Britt K. Slabinski. I have never heard of him. I know he has never heard of me. Yet he, along with millions of service men and women across the globe in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard protect me, someone they do not know. It takes a special type of person to make that commitment and sacrifice to ensure our country’s interests. Like my Dad and my Brother did. I tear up every time I think of it.
I cannot imagine any other group that could engender espirit de corps more than the military. Their regimen teaches soldiers trust, strength, pride and responsibility.
When I was in Army Basic Training, I had the privilege of feeling “it.” The swelling of pride from knowing I was embarking on something bigger than myself.
My basic training platoon was called the Undertakers. Our battle cry: Undertakers, Undertakers, strong and brave. Undertakers, Undertakers put you in the grave!
For Advanced Individual Training, a brilliant platoon mate invented “Blood and guts, eat ‘em up – give us a bigger spoon. Fifteen Echo leads the way. We’re the best platoon!”
As a newbie in the military, recruits are issued a SMART book, which stands for Soldier’s Manual Army Testing. The manual offers tips and instructions on how to be the best soldier one can be, as well as words of inspiration, including the Soldier’s Code, part of which reads: “I am an American Soldier – a protector of the greatest Nation on earth.” The military does not tolerate what President George W. Bush called the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” Which is why our armed forces are the best in the world. If you see someone who has served or is currently serving this Memorial Day weekend, be sure to thank them. And while you’re at it, look to the heavens and say a “thank you” for those who sacrificed all to keep us