As family trees go, you could say that the branches of Dave’s are firmly rooted in military tradition.
Dave served the army stationed in England, Vietnam, California, and other far reaches of the globe as a communications technician, career counselor, recruiter, and truck driver, before working post-service as a trucker until his retirement.
In addition to his own service, Dave’s dad served in the navy, his brother is active duty air force, and his nephew is a marine.
Four people, and four branches of the military – that’s quite a family tree!
Back in basic training, Dave recalled when Sunday rolled around and a sergeant asked the recruits who wanted to go to church that morning. No hands went up, because Sunday was their only day to sleep in! They quickly realized that by staying back from church, they’d actually signed up for a day of manual labor.
The next Sunday rolled around and this time when asked who was interested in attending church, all hands went up!
Dave proudly recounted for us his family’s military service history at our 4th annual Community Memorial Picnic this past Wednesday at Remembrance Reformed Church. We continue to host this picnic as a way to personalize the upcoming Memorial Day holiday for the members of our community; to put faces on the reason the entire country hits pause for a day of remembrance.
Attendees enjoyed sharing stories over dinner, had the opportunity to create a prayer cloth, and participated in a ceremony replete with military honors.
Sure, we love a good BBQ and picnic to kick off the summer as much as anyone else, but in our work we’ve been deeply affected by the stories of the veterans in our community. We’re proud and humbled to host this event in their collective honor, and we love seeing generations come together to share stories and recognize those among us who served our country so faithfully, such as Ken and his family.
Ken and his wife Dora attended the picnic along with their son Jeff and grandson Jefferson. He was stationed stateside during the Korean War, while Jeff’s father-in-law served in Korea. Three generations of their family came, because “everyone should be honored who has served,” explains Ken.
We also met a veteran’s family representing four generations, honoring their veteran father/grandfather/great-grandfather! His daughter shared that she never actually met her dad until she was three years old because her dad was deployed with the navy for those first years of her life.
Even more incredulous was the story of how he got there! In 1939 he and some buddies were 'getting into some trouble' that including stealing hubcaps off of cars. One night the police showed up and his friends ran, leaving him standing there alone. Rather than turning his friends in, he accepted responsibility and blame for the crime and received a felony on his record. Several months later his friends joined the army, but he was rejected due to his felony record.
He ended up in the navy, because the navy accepted felons and placed them on minesweeping ships in the Atlantic Ocean during WWII!
These are the people around us, in our community, who dedicated their lives to protecting our collective freedoms. We pause to remember some whose lives have been altered from their service, and also those who gave of their lives in service to our country.
Special thanks to sponsors Remembrance Church, AAA Lawn Care, Mieras Family Shoes, ARC Document Solutions, Jack's Service Center, Greg Gaastra/Five Star Real Estate, Foremost Graphics Group, Copperrock Construction, Riverbend Body Shop, Patten Monument Company, and Emmanuel Hospice for making this event possible; to Walker Mayor Mark Huizinga for his support; and to Tsakani Studios for the beautiful pictures commemorating this event.
Most importantly, join us in thanking our veterans in the comments below!