Veterans Day is a very emotional time for me and to my family. It takes me back to moments my family and I will never forget.
The time was around my freshman year in high school, and my brother joined the Army. He went through basic training, and then received his orders; he was going to Iraq. Talk about devastating.
I haven’t ever really talked about it to anyone. Even then I was extremely quiet. I couldn’t talk to my mom or dad, because they were just as affected as me. Every day my parents had the news on, and every day it grew harder to live with.
My brother was a part of the initial invasion. I didn’t know where to turn. I didn’t know what to do. My big brother that I had admired and looked up to for so many years was nowhere to be found, worst of all I couldn’t even talk to him.
In a young boy’s life, you pick a set of role models, or at least I did, and my brother was one of the major ones. I can honestly say he was one of the main factors why I continued to fish. The entire year he was overseas, I would go home, walk in the door, tell my mom “Hi,” and hit the lake.
I wouldn’t come off the water until dark, then I would go to my room, do my homework and go to bed. I didn’t go watch TV; I didn’t talk to my parents. Every time I would try or something about Ryan would come up, we would all start crying.
I can honestly say that year or so was one of the hardest times of my life. My family is extremely close -- we still hug and kiss each other on the cheek and every time we leave the house we say “I love you.” We would do anything in the world for one another.
After a year my brother was coming home, and I honestly didn’t know what to say. I didn’t believe it; I thought it was a dream, although I had just lived through a nightmare.
I remember picking him up at the airport and my dad and mom went one way at the airport and I took the other route. We didn’t want to see Ryan on the other side of the glass and wanted at least one person to see him face to face. I drew the short straw; I saw my brother run up and give mom and dad a kiss and hug. I stood and watched through the glass.
I stopped and watched, like I was watching a ghost, and said a little prayer, probably one of the first ones I said since he left. I was pretty mad at God for a while and didn’t really understand what was going on; I lost the faith, but with seeing my brother’s bright face, regained it immediately. My brother was alive.
I write this to vent and to recognize all of the families in similar situations. I write this for the little brothers out there today that have dealt with the same, if not worse, situations.
I share my story for all kids, don’t keep things like this inside, talk about them and share. People out there can help you. Remember two things, fishing helps when all else fails, but never, and I mean never, lose the faith.
Today is in honor of my big brother, my best friend and my hero; Ryan Upshaw.
This is for the parents who have to endure the ultimate sacrifice of their children. This is for all the men and women who have lost their lives in the line of battle; for the men and women who were able to come home.
This day is for you. I love you all, you are all my heroes. Thank You.