There's a picture in my family's cabin on Grand Lake in northeastern Oklahoma that used to spook me when I was a kid. It's one of those black-and-white photos where the eyes of the man in the picture seem to follow you everywhere you go. My family's cabin has two floors, and the second floor contains the bedrooms. I'd always turn at the top of the steps and look back at that picture and, sure enough, the man would be staring right back at me ... every time. It was a creepy image as I turned the corner and headed toward bed.
As I got older, I learned that that wasn't just a creepy guy in the photo ... it was actually my great-great-great-grandfather in his Civil War uniform. As it turned out, I definitely have some Southern blood in my veins, thanks in part to this man who was an officer in the Confederate Army.
Also as I got older, I learned my grandpa wasn't just my grandpa. He was also a World War II veteran who served in China building airstrips for Allied planes to use in their battles in the Pacific. His son (and my dad) would also later serve in Asia, doing a tour of duty in Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
I thought about my family's military background earlier today when I was in the Skylink at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. Riding in the Skylink car with me were eight soldiers who were heading to training before being deployed to Afghanistan. I thanked them for their service as they got off at their stop. It was a small gesture, but it's something that I have come to believe is very important because these are the men and women who are protecting my freedom to travel to a meeting in San Francisco, and who are ensuring that my family and I can continue to enjoy our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
I never served in the military and I can't imagine the sacrifices being made each day by these brave men and women around the world. I can never thank them enough for that.
I’m writing this a week before Election Day. I have no idea who will be sitting in the Oval Office or Congress when you read this. I do, however, know this ... no matter who is in Washington, it's the men and women of our Armed Forces (past and present) who will always make this country the greatest place in the world to live.
To all of you veterans, thank you for your service and dedication.