It’s Veterans Day and I’d like to take a moment to honor four people who have served their country.

My grandfather, deceased in 1991, served in two wars in army intelligence. He worked taking pictures but primarily studying pictures others had taken, trying to determine what was on the ground in war torn Europe. He passed away before I truly had a chance to understand what it was that he had done but my grandmother told as many stories as she could remember and made such paraphernalia as he had available to her grandchildren to be taken to school and shown. While I wish I had the opportunity to speak with him about his experiences, from what I know he probably would not have told me much.

My friend’s husband was wounded last year in Iraq when a bomb blew up a car that he was 30 feet from. He suffered a brain injury and only after intensive research on her part was able to receive the care he needed. Every day was difficult and it is just only recently that she has been able to describe to me more normal daily life. He continues in an administrative capacity to serve his country–not formally a veteran of the military but certainly of the war in Iraq.

My pen pal in late elementary school was a soldier who was serving in Desert Storm. As part of my church group at the time, we wrote letters that were sent to a random soldier–offering encouragement. I heard back from a young man who received my letter and I think we exchanged a half dozen letters or so. Unfortunately I don’t think I have any of them any more. As a result I do not remember his name nor any fact other than he described his hair as “sandy colored.” It is my hope that when I get through all of the stuff at my moms, one letter might crop up again.

Finally, my best friend from high school has gone on two short voluntary tours in Iraq. He returned from both unharmed, though he mentioned some difficulty sleeping there because he was quartered next to a runway where jets were taking off and landing 24/7. As you can imagine, this was the closest to me and the most difficult. He probably got teased at the large quantity of Hallmark cards that followed him across the ocean as well as the boxes of crazy stuff. I sent everything from Kool-aid to candy, toys and crossword puzzles along with anything useful I could think to throw in. On return home from his first tour he told me they had been having a party for some of the children and he’d been able to take a lot of the things I’d sent–as it would not make much sense to pack home silly putty and MadLibs. His exception was the yo-yo that I’d had to search through three stores to find. He continues as a full time guard member.

Today my thoughts and my thanks are with you for the difficult and often thankless job that you do. For your dedication and your voluntary actions I honor you this Veterans Day.