Wednesday, November 11, 2020

A Heartfelt Thank You on Veterans Day

Wednesday, 11 November

At the request of my daughters, today we spent some time at the cemetery unearthing and cleaning headstones of military veterans. Among the many we cleaned was my grandfather, Thomas Yates.

Thomas was an Army Veteran who parachuted into France on 5 June 1945. The day before D-Day. I have often wondered how he felt boarding the plane. Surrounded by scared men to his left and right, what was going through his mind as he shuffled to the door, jumped from the plan, and floated to the ground? He was wounded in the war but survived.  His brother-in-law, Frances Connolly, drowned the following day, D-Day no less, during the invasion of Normandy.   

My father served in the Army, as did his father, and my Uncle David (son of Thomas Yates) earned a Purple Heart in Vietnam.  

I was too young to thank my grandfathers for their service, and I never told my uncle that I was grateful and proud. Opportunities missed, so thank you, Henry, thank you, Tom, thank you, David, thank you, James. I am humbled by their service, and their sacrifice, along with all members of the armed forces, reminds me that my perceived hardships border on petty and pale in comparison. Even during the trials and tribulations of 2020. 

A heartfelt thank you to all Veterans, and their families, for their sacrifice. It is not just about the men and women in uniform. Lest one forget the enormous sacrifice of all members of a military family. 

Republicans and Democrats are more divided along ideological lines than at any point in my lifetime. Regardless of what side of the aisle you align yourself with politically, let us all unite in sharing our gratitude for our nation's Veterans.  

The great Winston Churchill once said, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." A fitting quote on 11 November.  

With Gratitude,

Michael J. Mastrullo

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