I first wrote this post last year, and while several things have changed since then, the one thing that has not changed is my pride...in my family, and in my country!
Veterans Memorial Day. A day where we honor those who have fought to give us the rights and kind of life some of us just take for granted. But not me. I am a very proud American, and all that this country stands for. I remember at each and every parade, when the flag passed by, my mom would stand and cover her heart. We celebrated flag day in elementary school, and learned American history, the good and the bad. And I am proud of each and every loved one that has served, or is still serving, our country, and I would like to share them with you. Starting with my father, Chester Raczka. Isn't he just handsome? He was a navy man, and I think that is why I have always loved the navy uniform.
And this is my handsome hubby, way back in boot camp. He was a navy man too. They say you marry your father, hahaha. They both also loved shopping at the Goodwill. :P Chuck wasn't able to stay in the navy very long. He found out the hard way that he gets violently sea sick :( But he was proud of the time he did spend in the service. Just a few years ago we took a trip to Charleston, SC, to try and find his navy base. It was pretty cool to hear him talk about those days. He was recently honored at our church, along with the other military members, with a wonderful plaque. We need to get back to honoring those who served to keep our freedom. This is not a day for just a picnic. There are too many families missing loved ones today.
Now, my brother, Michael Raczka, was a marine in Vietnam. I was only 8 when he graduated from high school (picture on left), and I don't remember much about that time. I do remember my mom knitting him this huge blanket with a rat in uniform, cuz I guess that's what the other soldiers called him. And I remember watching him walk off the airplane when he got home from the war. He moved to CA shortly after that, here he is with his beautiful wife, Ginny.
This is my nephew Nicholas Coniglio. He just recently served 3 tours in Iraq in the Marine National Guard. He drove a Humvee, which made his mother (my sister) very nervous. We used to talk about him having a target on the roof of his Humvee. I'm sure getting 3 tours in Iraq was not what he expected when he signed with the National Guard, but he served his country well. Him and his wife Colleen just had their first child, Nunzio. Yes, he named the baby Nunzio, hahaha. Here is Nunzio today...handsome just like his daddy.
This is our grand-daughter Krystal Alderman with her husband Tyler. They met in boot camp. And, yeppers....the Navy! In fact Krystal went to the same boot camp that my husband went to, which he thought was really cool. They are both still serving, but Krystal will be done soon. They are expecting their first child next spring. Here is is...Tyler Michael. He joined us on May 17th. My great-grandbaby!
This is our other grand-daughter Shannon (Krystal's sister) with her Navy (oh yeah) husband Mikaele Anderson. They met thru Krystal and Tyler. Talk about keeping it in the family. We are waiting for Mikaele to come home from his last tour in Afghanistan. And Shannon just gave birth to their first son, Christian. Here's a recent picture of Christian. Getting his teeth, and now starting to walk. Life goe by way too fast.
This is another grand-child, Alec Huntington. He recently graduated from high school where he was part of the ROTC, and then went straight to boot camp, but he picked the Army (boooo hahaha). He is in school, and we get to see him when he comes home during school breaks. We also have several other family members in the military. Our great-niece and her husband, Joanne and Ronaldo Colon, her sister and husband Amy and Josh Kelly, and there are many many more, but if I mentioned them all this blog post would turn into a book.
When I first posted this story, I neglected to include my cousin, Jim Rath. Or Big Jim as some liked to call him. He was a Navy man too, and just recently passed away. He was sooooo strongly patriotic, and also very loving and giving. I believe that is a trait all our service men and women have, because you have to have a love for others to willingly put yourself in harms way, for other people who will never actually meet. All of our gone loved ones are dearly missed. Everyday.
So, when you're out and about today, and see a service man, go to them and tell them "Thank you". Because unless you've been in the military, or have a loved one in the military, you will never fully understand all they give up, because they love this country.