I always think of you and your service to our country on Veterans Day. To me, you seem to be everything the Army needed: strong, brave and sure. A born leader.
Or, was it perhaps that the Army provided everything you needed: Hard training, camaraderie, tough rules and discipline?
I didn’t always appreciate what you signed up to do for our family and the nation. I didn’t fully comprehend that you were prepared to fight and die to keep us free. I didn’t feel the sacrifices you made … sacrifices Mom made, too.
I didn’t understand the extent to which you were tested at home and aboard to be the best of the best in all areas of your life. There was overt racism and segregation in both military and civilian life for people of color, during your time of service in the 1950s.
Dad, what I’m trying to say is, I didn’t appreciate you.
Older, wiser, better, I beam when I share with others that I’m a military brat, that I was born at Fort Benning and that you – You, dad – were an officer in the U.S. Army. I love looking at your Army pictures: so serious. I wonder what thoughts you were keeping. You looked badass! And, none of that has changed. When I look at you now, I notice how you stand straight still – as if someone’s shouting “attention!”
I feel so fortunate that no harm came to you and that you were able to provide our family the best lives we could have had. Actually it’s not just on Veterans Day that I recognize your character. No. It’s all the time.
You’re a hard nut to crack, sir. I never asked you very much about your assignment at Benning, who your friends were, how you earned your stripes. It never really crossed my mind. Now, I want to know everything!
I’m sure it was a big decision to leave the family farm in Lake City, Florida. You stepped up when others stood still. You’re a veteran’s veteran, dad. A soldier who could be counted on if the time had come to fight. You, so many years later still impress me with how you live the Army’s values. You don’t have to have on a uniform or fatigues to demonstrate duty, respect and courage.
If this nation knew you, and how you insisted on working always for the best, then they’d be pleased that you were on post taking care of business. I love, honor and salute you and others like you who faced fears, stayed focused, and followed orders.
You always have this look like nothing can penetrate you … as if your heart and soul are encased in steel. I know that that’s not true of you, but it really is a rare thing to see your softer side. Thankfully, I get glimpses. I can see how much you care.
As we observe another veterans day in America, I know how fortunate I am to be the daughter of a soldier, who gets to write a love letter that is actually received and read. I’m grateful for that. Too many military children can’t.
Editor’s note: Frank Vernon Saulsby was a sergeant in the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia.
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Meet Pam Wednesday
Award-wining journalist and singer Pam Saulsby celebrates the release of her children’s book “Ashley’s High Five For Daddy,” about military families and PTSD, at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday (Nov. 11) at Quail Ridge Books and Music, 3522 Wade Ave. in Raleigh. The book is available on Amazon.com and pamsaulsby.com