Pep, Ernie and the Almost-Gone Generation of Awesome!

As America was drawn into World War II after the attack on Pearl Harbor, my grandfather (aka Pep) and his best friend Ernie walked to the Manchester NH Induction Center to enlist together.

Being slightly underage, my grandfather had to return home to get special written permission from his mother (Ernie may have lied about his age). When Pep returned to the office, he discovered that Ernie had already been shipped out.

They did not see each other again until the war was over.

What followed was a lifetime of friendship, laughter and pranks.

This past weekend, my mom and my aunt Elaine visited with Ernie’s family for his funeral and celebration of life.

We lost Pep in 2009, when he was a resident of the Veteran’s Home in Tilton NH.  

When Ernie’s family realized that mom and Elaine were “Al Dionne’s daughters”, they were swarmed with love, laughter and respect.

Sadly, there are fewer and fewer World War II veterans still with us.

Hundreds of them are dying, every day.

It always warms my heart to see parades and other events held which honor our veterans.

During a recent road race to benefit a fallen local soldier, runners paused to shake the hand of a WWII veteran who was watching from the sidewalk in front of his home. Here is the video:

One of favorite programs is the Honor Flight Network which brings them to see their memorial in Washington DC.

In a time when politics often blur the lines of ‘WHY’ when it comes to war, I believe there is something critical we should remember: there are still many brave souls who are walking into recruitment centers every day to defend our nation against enemies foreign and domestic.

I personally do not agree with everything our government is doing around the world, but I will always be thankful for those who are brave enough to put themselves in harm’s way to protect America and her allies. Not all of our veterans have been honored for their duty, and that is sad.

As we observe Veterans Day, I ask you to please remember our brave men and women this week, and every week. Somewhere in your community there are veterans who are suffering from wounds seen and unseen, struggling to make ends meet, trying to survive.

You can help.

One phone call to a shelter or veterans home is a great place to start.

A heavy coat for winter?  A warm pair of boots?  A donation of food?

I can help. You can too.

Someone who risked it all is still here…and needs help.

In honor of Pep and Ernie, who both stepped up bravely a lifetime ago, I will reach out this week to give back.

Who knows, we might just find a special soul who becomes part of our circle of friends and family.

Let’s keep that feeling of honor and awesomeness going, in honor of their generation.

To all U.S. military veterans: thank you from the bottom of this grateful heart for all you’ve bravely done so that I can enjoy so many freedoms.

You are appreciated.

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