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A legacy of resilience

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. --

Strong, intelligent, wise, loving and resilient.

These are the words I would use to describe my grandfather. My best days were those spent at my grandparents’ house. With my nana, who managed to clean, fuss and sing all at once and my “paw paw,” with his low commanding voice and six-foot frame, who told the best stories.

My favorite stories were about the Army. They were tales of combat, prejudice and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. All from a time I would never know or understand.

Fast forward to the present, where I am serving my country with endless opportunities that my grandfather didn’t have. At times I regret my decision to join because I feel like I have given up my freedom. I want to sleep in and shun the responsibilities I’ve taken on, but then I think of paw paw. A man who dedicated 26 years of his life at a time when many who served had enemies on both sides of the fight. A man who, in the face of racism, did his job and put his life on the line, even for those who looked down on him.

My paw paw was a Vietnam War veteran, a Purple Heart recipient and the humblest man I’ll ever know. So who am I? Who am I to ever feel like a victim because I didn’t get the job I wanted, I stay a few hours late, I miss home or I just don’t feel like being in the military today?

We all have our bad days and experience times when we feel like giving up. When I find myself in that low place, I think of my paw paw--the tenacious, thoughtful man who endured so much, but remained grateful and kind.

Everyone can benefit from having a strong person to look up to and draw strength from daily. That strength can come from a family member, teacher, friend or even a celebrity. Everyone has a story, and sometimes just seeing someone else pull through is enough to pull you as well.

There is happiness in many things we do, sometimes we just need to pick our heads up long enough to see the positive side of things. For me, that positive is that I live a great life and carry on a great legacy.

What’s your positive? What are you missing by keeping your head down?

My paw paw is a constant reminder that resilience is a choice. It’s a choice that either comes naturally from within or we learn from others who inspire us.

If you’re not sure, I challenge you to find someone or something that can help you see the good.

Your happiness depends on it.