That includes my father.
Below, first, a picture of my dad from his days serving in the Air Force. In the other picture, Dad is seen with his Honor Flight sponsor this September.
Washington, by the way, is Dad’s favorite place. As he told me before the flight, “Any time you can go to Washington, you should do it.”
It was to stoke my patriotism and love for our country’s system of government that he and Mom took me to DC for the first time when I was five. They took us all to many places to foster our love for America: Gettysburg, Philadelphia, Lincoln’s home and burial place in Springfield, Illinois, FDR’s home at Hyde Park, Mount Vernon, Monticello, and many spots here in Ohio.
Referring to my first trip to Washington, I wrote this to Dad before his Honor Flight:
“I know that you also took me because you love our country...not in that jingoistic, nationalistic, we’re-always-right-and-everyone-else-is-always-wrong way that is so sickeningly popular these days. You taught me to revere what this country is really about, a place where our freedoms are guaranteed as much by our mutual accountability under the Constitution and our laws as they are by the military in which you once pledged your allegiance to our country and its laws, even the ones we don’t like. (I remember you pointing out to me when I was little that the oath you took is the same one always taken by our Vice Presidents.)
“When it became clear to me that you loved Eisenhower--and spoke to me of shaking his hand as he left Europe, where he served as NATO commander, to come back home to run for president in 1952, I came to like Ike too. After lots of study, he’s still one of my own personal Mount Rushmore presidents, along with Washington, Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt. But that started with you!
“One of the lessons I also learned from you about patriotism is the necessity of civilian commanders-in-chief in our presidents. Even Eisenhower resigned his commission before running, since our military officers should always be apolitical...And you also taught me--and Ann’s dad, a navigator for B-24s in the South Pacific during World War 2, agreed with this--that generals like MacArthur, glory-hounds who don’t care about the non-comms he sent into battle, need to be reined in or drummed out!
“Anyway, Dad, thank you not only for serving in the Air Force, but also for being such a great citizen, a great American, a great dad, a great husband, and a great guy. As you go to Washington this time, it’s exciting to me that you’ll get to see the Korean and World War 2 memorials. I find both to be deeply moving and I think that you will too. “My only regret is that I won’t be able to make this trip to Washington with you.”Thanks to all the veterans who served our country in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, or Coast Guard. And thanks to the vets who, like Dad, came home and taught their kids about our country and its history.
[I'm the pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]