Monday, November 11, 2013

A tribute to a veteran, father, and friend

As I sit at home this morning, I’m reflecting not only on the Men and Women that have given their lives for our freedom, but also on those that are currently sacrificing to serve in our military.  I’m also reflecting on those that gave and then step so quietly back into our society, to continue their lives as fathers/mothers, sons/daughters, and grandchildren.

As I sit to write this I have to remember that I’m at the place today in the ministry because of one of these wonderful and gracious veterans. In 1953, my father joined the United States Air Force, to serve as a civil engineer and heavy equipment operator.  He would go on to have many different challenges as he served over the next 20 years.  He would be involved in Search & Recuse, Air Force Police, closing bases, and things he just wouldn’t talk about.  I loved to sit for hours and listen to him tell stories about his experiences in countries like Spain, England, Japan, South Korea, Pakistan, and even here in the states. 

I was born in 1960 and had the privilege (yes, I do look back at my childhood as a privilege) to travel out of the country twice with my father, once to England when I was 4 and 5 years old, and once to Taiwan when I was 10 and 11 years old. They are both experiences I will never forget. I even enjoyed living at two different Air Force Bases in Michigan, which is an experience that I wish every other young person could have.

Please do not misunderstand me, it was not all great growing up, especially when dad was overseas for 18 months to two years at a time.  As a child you’re not really sure how to process him being gone, you only hold on to the fact that dad loves you and will be home soon.

You’re asking yourself what does that all have to do with now. The places I lived, the people I met, the values I was taught, and the respect I share for others all have a major impact on the Message I share today. Through all this time traveling around the world, and living on bases here at home, one thing remained consistent, no matter where we were, we were attending the Base Chapel or a church in the community.

In 1973 my dad retired from the Air Force as a Technical Sergeant and he continued to teach me the values of life, to respect others, to work hard, to go after your dreams, and to serve God wherever he calls you.   Dad passed away in 2009 at the age of 77 just three days shy of his 78th birthday.  At the grave side the Honor Guard gave a 21 gun salute, they gave the family the folded flag, and they gave a United States Air Force Veteran the Honor he deserved.

In my heart and mind I know that my father sum’s up what a real veteran is:  A man or women that serves their country with honor and distinction for the time they are asked, then serves their family, community, church, and country where asked as life continues. 

With all that being said I can only say on this Veterans Day … Thanks Dad for being willing to serve your country, family, church, and community.

I love and miss you TSgt Donald E. (Gene) Allen, Sr.