Veteran’s Day is a very important holiday to me because I grew up in a military family with both my father and grandfather serving. We can trace our military history all the way back to the Civil War to a confederate soldier named Albert Jenkins. With all this family history it is easy to see why at such a young age I loved veterans, our military and war history. As I grew up it became important to me to help veterans and to get to know as many as I could. At college I became involved in our student veterans group and started a photography project that I have been working on for some time. I wanted to show nonmilitary viewers what veterans look like as well as their gear, medals, scars, and items. Through this process I became very close with the veteran community and started a school newspaper column that highlighted veterans and veteran related issues. By doing this I learned about the good, the bad and what makes each veteran special . We shared laughs, tears, and many good stories. Each veteran that I have met over the years has landed a special place in my heart.
The First veteran I really came to know, understand and love is my father. He is a man that I truly look up to and not just because of his service but because he is an amazing father and husband. He is always there for us, always willing to listen and is a lot of fun. He knows everything about vintage cars and the Civil War, which inspired my love of both those things. I always looked up to him as a child and wanted to be like him. I think that is why I love vintage stuff, good classic rock, history, art and always thought the military was cool.
My father was a dare devil when he was a youngster. He was raised by a World War Two veteran in a cute little town in Western MA. When he was just 17 years old he left high school and decided to enlist to the Army during the height of the Vietnam War. He of course didn't just want to be in the Army, he wanted more excitement than that so he took the test and passed to be in the Special Forces as a Green Beret Paratrooper. These crazy young men learned how to jump out of a plane at over 1,000 feet and into danger. You can count me out! I would never be able to do what he did. He served in Vietnam from 1965-1968 and went all over to the secret parts of the war. He said one of the worse parts about being over there was the snakes which he hated.
My father lost a few friends overseas and has suffered from Agent Orange from his service but he said he wouldn't change a thing. He said it is an honor to serve one's country.
The photo above is from 2013 and 2015. The first time I took this photo I wanted to show the changes that he had gone through since he was 17 years old and then in the new photo I wanted to show the change of a few years and show him in his dress uniform.
Thank you Daddy for your service during Vietnam. Welcome Home! I love you so much, you mean the world to me.
The two people in the photo above are my Grandparents. These are the people who raised my father. I was very young when my grandfather died and never had the chance to learn about his war stories. I have his military records and items and from all that I gather that he was a war hero. He served in Germany during World War Two and received a Bronze Star for "capturing" Nazi enemies. I wish I was able to learn his story. I hope he is peaceful now in his resting place.
The photo above is my Grandfather's Bronze Star next to his records.
This is a photo that I took of one of the student veterans that I met at Salem State University. He had amazing tattoos and was saddened that many soldiers now have to get them removed.
Happy Veteran's Day to all the K-9 military dogs who have served our country.Many people forget the animals who help make our soldiers safe and happy. Our military still use Dogs and horses and have for many years. Our furry friends deserve our thanks too.
Thank you to all our active and retired military members. I have the most respect for all that serve our country. Your job is not easy and I look up to you. I hope that anyone that suffered from their service are healed and taken care of. I cannot say how thankful I am to all our service members, you are all so great . I will keep each and everyone of you in my heart.
Happy Veteran's Day and Welcome Home (for the Vietnam era vets)!