Friday, November 11, 2011


For many, Veteran's Day is just another "random" holiday where if you're lucky you get a day off work or school (kind of like MLK Jr. Day, President's Day, and Columbus Day) - typically myself included. But this year something's different ... I don't know why but something's clicked for me. 

I don't want to analyze it too much, but maybe it's because just a few days ago in my city, on two separate occasions, two Iraq War veterans were brutally beaten by the Oakland Police Department for protesting the increasing disparity between rich and poor in this nation. Maybe it's because we've been at war in this country for as long as I can remember. Or maybe it's just because in my old age I'm starting to think more about those around me and all that they do.

Whatever the reason, I'm asking you too to take some time out of your busy schedule today to think about our Veterans - those that have passed, those that are fighting today, those that have returned home safe and sound, those that have returned home not so safe or sound. 

I grew up hearing war stories from both my grandpa and my dad. While recent generations on both sides of my family have stayed away from the military, it's fair to say that there's been a lot of military service in my family over the years. 

My dad was in the Marines from 1974 to 1977, discharged the month before I was born. The details on his service are somewhat hazy as he's been known to tell a few extremely tall tales in his lifetime so it's hard to say with any certainty exactly what his service looked like. We do know that he was based in California, Okinawa, and Saigon. There is, however, some debate as to whether or not he was in Vietnam for the Fall of Saigon or afterward for the cleanup. My guess is the latter.

On the other side of the family my great grandfather, Lt. Commander Roy Jacobs, fought in World War II, serving as a medic in the battle for Guadalcanal. He was a mean old bastard before the war and when he returned home, having lost his pharmacy while off protecting our country, he became an even worse raging alcoholic. It was quite scandalous when my great grandmother Gertrude divorced him. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in an area close to where JFKs eternal flame burns day and night.

My grandpa Edward Jacobs, who died in 2007, was a Staff Sargent in the Air Force, having enlisted at the tender age of 17 (with Gertrude's consent). My grandpa likes to embellish his stories as well (although nowhere near to the extend as my dad), so we're never really sure where truth turns into fiction, but we do know that he was part of a group that helped build a base in Saudi Arabia, and that while in the Middle East he traveled to Ethiopia. We learned this little nugget of information when we took him out to dinner at our local Ethiopian restaurant, thinking we were broadening his horizons with some crazy exotic food.
He was later stationed at Hamilton Air Force Base, about twenty minutes from here by Freeway. The last time we was able to come visit we took a trip there so he could regale us with stories about his time there, including when he was on the base's football team and they played against a bunch of Petaluma chicken farmers and got their asses kicked because, "those cowboys don't mess around." He had a lot of respect for chicken farmers after that.

So wherever you are today and whatever you're doing, think about those folks you know that have served and give them your thanks. Without them the world is a very different place.


  1. You know Grandma Gertie remarried after Roy died, right?  So, in the family Bible she lists him as dying and then she lists her new marriage a bit later. ;)

  2. Oooh, I knew there was some scandal about her divorce and the family bible but I couldn't remember what it was. Sneaky.


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