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"Honoring My Veteran" by Kara Logan

Honoring My Veteran

 

Written by Kara Logan, Comfort Zone Staff

 

Today is Veteran’s Day - the day that we celebrate those who have dedicated their lives to the protection and safety of our nation. These Americans have spent days, years, even decades in dangerous conditions performing grueling work, all to make sure that we have a future.

 

How fitting it is, that Veteran’s Day is the day that my own veteran - my father - died.

 

My father spent a year in the military in the 1970’s during the Vietnam War. He spent that year in Europe (mostly Germany) as a cook in the Army. He never talked much about his time in the service, but in hindsight, I can see how those experiences shaped the man and father he became. After returning home, my father married and created a family with my mother. He had no college education; he set his sights on providing for his family by using the skills that he learned in the Army, and learned growing up as a poor Black man in the segregated South. He worked as a truck driver for most of his life - first for different companies, and later he owned and operated his own trucking company.

 

My father was a complicated man. He had some great qualities, and some not so great. He was human.  He was hard, demanding, and expected nothing but the best from everyone around him. Sometimes, he wasn’t very easy to please. He wasn’t a great communicator, and he wasn’t great at expressing his emotions. But, my daddy loved just as hard as the man he portrayed himself to be. When he let his walls down, he was a kind and sensitive spirit. He was always using his gifts to help his family, friends, and neighbors. He served in his church and community: he drove the church van, served as Sunday school superintendent, provided free manual labor to neighbors and friends, provided finances to those in need, served as everyone’s resident “handyman,” served as a father figure and role model to countless children, and gave an abundance of advice and wisdom (both solicited and unsolicited). Daddy’s love wasn’t in his words; it was in his actions. It was in his very being.

 

My daddy taught me to be independent, dedicated, and strong. He taught me worth, and drilled into my head to never accept mistreatment of any kind. Daddy was the first person to help me understand what it meant to be a Black woman in this society. He never let me forget how fortunate I was to live in a hardworking two-parent household, receive a quality (integrated) education, and always know where my next meal was coming from. But, he also taught me that such blessings came with a responsibility to give to others. He taught me to be a humble and willing servant. Daddy is the reason that I am who I am.

 

Fortunately, the lessons didn’t stop when Daddy’s physical body did. He teaches me just as much in his death as he did in life. His death taught me the depth of grace, faith, understanding, compassion, and strength. His death helped me realize my purpose. I am a part of the Comfort Zone Camp family because of, and in honor of, my daddy. Although he physically left this world alone in the woods of his hometown, I carry him with me to all of the camps that I attend, and in all the interactions I share with grieving families. He is in my daily life and every breath.

 

As hard as Veteran’s Day is for me and my family, I find comfort in knowing that his death anniversary is during a season of significant days. He died exactly a week after the election of the first Black President of the United States—a milestone that I am forever grateful that he lived to see. Even more special is the fact that the day he died is celebrated as a national holiday. His country honors him for the sacrifice he made for U.S. citizens—just as I honor him for the sacrifice that he made for my mother, sister, and myself. My daddy was a lot of things—a veteran, proud Black man, entrepreneur, husband, son, provider, neighbor, leader, and father. So, on this Veteran’s Day, and every other day, I honor my father—in all of his intricacies and complexities. I encourage everyone who has ever loved a veteran, living or not, to honor and celebrate them not only for their service, but also for all of their other identities, roles, and gifts. Tonight, I will be whispering my gratitude for my daddy over the single candle that I light for him every year on November 11th. My hope is that everyone reading this takes today to do the same.

 

Rest in Peace, Daddy. Your princess misses you.

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