I’m thinking about my uncle, who was killed aboard the U.S.S. Franklin. I never knew him. I’m thinking about a couple of volunteers whose first husbands died in WWII which brings me to thinking about all the volunteers who served and in particular, those who are no longer with us.

There’s John who landed at Normandy and marched into Germany. He had traveled to France a few years back to receive a medal for his bravery. There’s Fred, a hard-core Marine who organized a fund-raiser single handedly because he believed in our mission. There’s Judy, the Vietnam nurse who tended to the wounded and held the hand of the dying. There’s Craig, who was a POW, escaped and made it back.

Then there’s Dan, a British transplant who served in the British Army. What an English gentleman, sturdy, intelligent, a writer who could work with patients one day and dress in a tux to MC an event the next. He brought light and joy until he succumbed to illness. I keep his badge in my drawer.

These men and women did not die on a field or ship far from home. They came back and lived. And live they did! How fortunate we are to have had their willingness, their work ethic and selfishly, their company. They lived and utilized their lives for the greater good. I am humbled to have known them.