Another View: Veterans Day a time to remember

By: Jenifer Gee, Editor
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Veterans Day has a special meaning for many. Throughout our history wars have touched millions of lives, including the soldiers who fight them and their families. It’s fitting that as a country and on a local level as a city, we come together and honor the sacrifices others have made for us. I attended the Auburn Veterans Day parade Friday. As I stood on the parade route in Downtown Auburn, spectators clapped and shouted “thank yous” as veterans paraded by on foot and in car. American flags waved and high school marching bands played traditional patriotic music that further added to the ambiance. I couldn’t help but hope that there were other people in cities throughout our country doing the exact same thing. In my family, my dad lost a brother in the Vietnam War he hardly knew in Gregory Joseph Gee. Greg was born Aug. 25, 1949. He served as a specialist, SP4 – E4, in the Army Selective Service in the 9th infantry division. Yet Greg didn’t make it to a year of service. He began his tour April 21, 1969. On Aug. 17, 1969, three days after my dad’s 9th birthday, Greg was killed in Dinh Tuong, South Vietnam by a ground explosive device. Greg was 19. His body was recovered and his name is now one of more than 58,000 engraved on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. My grandmother once told me about Greg’s service and that he had stepped on a land mine. I was elementary school age at the time so it didn’t dawn on me to ask more about what kind of person Greg was. She said she always thought that he and my dad would’ve been close friends had they had the chance to grow up together. She passed before I could later learn more. My dad doesn’t say too much about his brother, mostly because he was young himself. But as a family we have each visited the memorial. My dad keeps the paper he used to etch over Greg’s name on the wall. I know I have respect for the photo I have of Greg’s name on the memorial. So I can only imagine the impact of similar keepsakes and memories that other families have of their loved ones who have served. And in Auburn, the respect I saw today for our servicemen and women was touching. At lunch, a man caught my attention when he politely interrupted a group of men sitting at the table next to mine. He asked if there were any veterans at the table. A man wearing a Navy veteran hat said yes and the other man reached out his hand and thanked him for his service. On this opinion page you’ll see a letter from Auburn veteran Richard Huntley who said he had never felt so honored as he did at a local elementary school’s recent tribute to veterans. Auburn’s patriotic spirit is genuine and unwavering. I hope other communities emulate what I witnessed today, not only on Veterans Day, but throughout the year.