Michael Spotlights the Rock Family Veterans
Today is Veterans Day in America. It's a day we set aside to honor all who have served in our armed forces, both living and dead.
There are many veterans in my family, but the ones that are closest to me are my father and grandfather, pictured top right with my grandmother the day he returned home from World War II.
My grandfather served in the Pacific Theater during World War II. His job was to drive the colonel around the dirt roads of Guam. I wish I had thought to ask him more about his days in the war while he was still alive.
My dad served in Vietnam, as pictured top left. Honestly, I don't know much about his time there, either. Once or twice, in my memory, he has broken out a photo album from his days at war. The photos that I remember the most were the ones of giant beetles, seemingly the size of a human head.
You could have known my father for 20 years and not know that he served as an army sergeant in Vietnam. My dad isn't the most talkative guy in the world, and when he does talk it's usually about the Red Sox or Patriots, not so much about Vietnam.
The very little that I do know, though, really illustrates the kind of guy he is. He's a person that has taken his steady strength and calmness under pressure and turned them into service for his country and his community. He's spent his entire adult life fighting for and protecting citizens as a soldier and a police officer.
He has saved people's lives.
One day he was called to the scene of a construction site where a new building was being built in Boston. A woman had become suicidal and was threatening to jump down from the vacant structure and onto the pavement below. My father isn't afraid of much, but he's afraid of heights. He willed himself out onto the platform and talked the woman down from the ledge.
To be fair, the better word might be "begged" the woman off from the ledge. He shared with her how scared he was, she felt bad, and she eventually came back to safety because she felt bad for him. Mission accomplished.
Just this morning, I found out things about my dad on my sister's Facebook page. She writes:
"My Dad wasn't drafted for the Vietnam war, he volunteered. That alone speaks volumes about the kind of guy he is, I think. As a young kid, he signed up for the Army and off he went to a foreign land. He was promoted to Sgt. and when it came time and they said he could go home... he said no. And he stayed. Because he didn't want to leave his men. He ended up staying for 14 months. Everyone knows that many soldiers never made it home from the Vietnam war, and yet, my Dad chose to stay. You know what else? He was injured in combat and was to be awarded a Purple Heart, but he refused. That's just who my Dad is. He wasn't there for the glory." – Janine Rock
My heartfelt thanks to all of our veterans and their families on this Veterans Day.