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A Family of Patriots

Aidan Gill with his father, Scott Gill.

(ROCKWALL, TX — June 12, 2017) My Uncle Harry taught me how to shoot a basketball, coached me throughout my elementary years. I love my uncles, but I’m closest with him. Books couldn’t hold the joking he’s done with every member of the family and the sneaking an extra $100 in his Christmas card to portray that he’s the favorite is a story that continues retelling.

Uncle Harry is an Army veteran, slugging it out in the thick Vietnamese jungles, running missions out of the well-known Chu Lai Fire Base. He’s now Vice-Mayor of Arlington, Tennessee, and one of his sons, my cousin Jeff, works alongside him as an Alderman.

Grandpa Latta commanded respect as he limped into a room. A card-carrying member of “The Greatest Generation,” the Missouri cotton farmer marched with the Dixie Division of the Army’s 31st Infantry as they fought in the World War 2 battles of New Guinea, Morotai, and the Philippines. A grenade sent him home with a leg brace and a hitch in his step. Yet, despite all that, he grew misty-eyed when honoring Old Glory.

My dad served in the Air Force during the Korean War and then spent 20 years in the Tennessee House of Representatives. Afterwards, he became the Commissioner of Conservation, overseeing all 52 state parks, the state wildlife refuges, and the wetlands. The man loved this land enough to act rather than merely speak.

Aidan, my second son, earned the title, U.S. Marine last December, wading through water on 40-degree days in Parris Island, flirting with hypothermia. He’s a proud Leatherneck working hands-on with fighter jets.

Brennen, my third kid, graduated in June and is taking the same oath as his older brother. He’s longing to earn his Eagle, Globe, and Anchor (the famous symbol of the Marines), joining his brother in service to Uncle Sam.

My family is loaded with men who have either served in the fighting forces or the public. All men of action, patriotic men, men who stand with hand over heart or salute as the Stars and Stripes runs up the flagpole.

Which seems a little old fashioned these days where angry protesting is fashionable. Nightly I watch the news with angry college kids stomping the flag and questioning the parts of the Constitution, and I honestly wonder what country they are experiencing. America’s not perfect; no place is, but if you knew the men I just mentioned, you’d see a different land, an amazing land. What country has 640 million acres of the most beautiful mountains, forests, and beaches reserved for public to be used for recreation?  What country gives full citizenship to immigrants that serve in its military? I haven’t even mentioned the blessings of freedom of speech or freedom of religion. Bottom line, the land of the free ain’t so bad. But I already knew that. In my family we decided long ago to join the festivities, to celebrate, because for us the 4th of July is more than fireworks, it’s a way of life.

By Scott Gill of Rockwall, teacher, coach and author of Goliath Catfish. Follow Scott’s blog at puptentpapa.blogspot.com and read his “Front Porch Ramblings” at BlueRibbonNews.com.

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