“You've gotta ask yourself a question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya? That quote was made famous by the fictional San Francisco Detective, Harry Callahan. The character was played by the iconic Clint Eastwood and uttered through clenched teeth. I am going to answer that question, but you're going to have to read the column first.
I was able to attend three Veterans Day programs today. One hosted by Cleveland School, one hosted by Fergus Falls High School and the final tribute honoring our veterans came from the Fergus Falls Middle School. Each program paid reverence to our country by honoring our flag, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and performing the national anthem.
I enjoyed every part of these programs, from the pageantry of the Color Guard to the majesty of the music and the heartfelt words of our guest speakers. I would like to especially thank today’s speakers: Tony Rendz, Tony Mayne and Andrew White for serving as inspiring role models. I am also touched by the thoughtfulness and care that go into making and presenting a Quilt of Valor.
Although I never served in the military, it has had a notable impact on my life. My dad was enlisted in the United States Army. Although he was not enlisted long, the memories he shares of the experience are positive - he would recount driving tanks, marksmanship practice and even a couple of exhibition boxing matches consisting of a round or two.
As a young child, I would occasionally go downstairs and open the old cedar chest which contained his military photo and uniform. I would try his hat on and imagine that I was in the army. I always thought that my dad made a sharp-looking soldier.
The local American Legion post would sponsor my participation in Boys State which was held on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College at that time. Through that experience, I developed a greater appreciation for our country and our freedoms.
My dad would later become the Commander of American Legion Post #122 in Deer River. I have watched him march in many parades as a member of the Color Guard. I have also heard him speak with some frequency of his participation as a member of an Honor Guard to pay respect to our veterans as they are laid to rest.
This past Sunday, I listened with pride as a former student of mine spoke of his faith journey and his life of service as a member of the United States Air Force pararescue unit. I had the honor of watching him grow up.
My wife and I co-taught his Sunday school class. Later, he would become the quarterback of a middle school football team that I coached. (I would like to think that’s where his love and appreciation for physical conditioning originated!) Ultimately, I would be at the podium announcing his name as he crossed the stage at graduation.