Veterans Day means a lot to me. Coming from a family with a long and rich military heritage, serving our nation, both in wartime and in peacetime, is deeply ingrained in my family’s character.
I served proudly in the United States Air Force for six years. My older brother, Kevin, served for twelve. My younger brothers, Christopher and Patrick, are both still serving. My sister, Stacia, served in the Iowa National Guard. Before us, my father served for thirty years in both the Army and the California Air National Guard. His sisters and brothers-in-law, likewise, also served. My cousins – on both sides – served proudly as well, mostly in the Navy on my mother’s side, and almost exclusively in the Air Force on my father’s side, perhaps as tribute to our grandfather, who enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1946, then transferred to the new Air Force after it became a separate service.
Before that, ours was a Navy dynasty. Six ships were named for ancestors on my father’s side, all bearing the name John Rodgers or, simply, Rodgers. They were named for Commodore John Rodgers, who served the nation during the War of 1812, and his grandson, Rear Admiral John Rodgers, who served during the bloodiest conflict in American history, our Civil War. A Commander Rodgers also served as a test pilot in the early years of the twentieth century, flying aircraft designed by the Wright Brothers themselves, and setting records in the process.
Today is the day that I honor all veterans, particularly my family. The commitment to public service through military service has been ingrained in my family for centuries, and it is a commitment that I am confident will continue to be passed down through future generations.