"You showed me what it means to have an undying love and pride in our Country - You had so much love for your Fellow Marines, you always found a way to show each and every one that you crossed paths with that they were your brothers. When you returned home from the Vietnam War - You were met with people who spat in your face, while others shouted at you calling you horrendous names. You selflessly sacrificed so much of yourself, paying the price for these people to have the freedom to show you the hateful disdain they had. You lived the rest of your life, not once receiving a single thank you... I know this broke your heart more than you would ever let me in on, and I don't think there is a soul in the world that would have blamed you for being bitter. Instead, you taught me the importance of never missing the opportunity to genuinely thank a soldier for their service, that be it from the Marine Corps, The Army, The Air Force, and yes, even the Navy. (wink)
The last few months of your life, you were so excited to be a first time grandfather, and to give your grandson life-long memories filled with love, fun and an exuberant amount of happiness so he could remember you. It was only a short 8 months that you had with Conner before you became overrun with thoughts and images that are too horrific for most people to even imagine. As the time went on, it began to take over. And then before we knew it, it was relentlessly robbing you of your joy in life, your joy in your family you loved with all your heart, and even the excitement you had in being a grandfather until it ultimately robbed you of your life.
We live our lives never forgetting the sacrifices that you and so many other brave men and women selflessly gave so we can enjoy the Freedoms you paid for. I want so badly for you to know we could never spend just one day out of the year to memorialize that fact. It makes me so sad you never got the chance to meet your granddaughter. I know for a fact she would have had you tightly wrapped around her little finger - just the way I did when I was a little girl.
Every day that has gone by since you left Dad, I can't help but miss you more and more. What I would give just to talk to you one more time. The things I would tell you, especially making sure you knew the gratitude I hold in my heart for you being the father that not too many people are lucky enough to get. You and your baby brother never got a father since yours abandoned you when you were just 5 years old, never showing an ounce of interest.
You were never really taught how to be a dad, yet I can't imagine anyone being a better father than you. You made sure I knew just how much I was loved, you did things with me, you were there even when it was impossible for you to be there, you found a way no matter what.
Even though your grand-babies won't get to have those fond memories that you were so excited to give them, they will have a lifelong honor in knowing they are the grandchildren of a United States Marine who gave the ultimate sacrifice that paid for their freedom. And through me, they will get to have the kind of parent you showed me how to be, and that makes them pretty darn lucky.
I love you and miss you every day.