Thirty-eight minutes and 33 seconds.
That's the entire length of my dad's funeral service.
Thirty-eight minutes and 33 seconds. It seems like a relatively short time to honor such an amazing man.
The thing is, I didn't fully realize how amazing he was until his funeral June 26, 2008.
My dad was a quiet man. During my years of growing up, he was soft-spoken.
Never one to raise his voice. But he had such a presence.
Solid, strong, kind, considerate, generous, compassionate, caring and loving. If only more people could be like my dad.
A World War II veteran, having served in the Army.
He never spoke of it much and it was at his funeral that Pastor Alan Barber of Peace Lutheran Church shed enough light on what dad went through as a young soldier to get my curiosity going.
I've read books, watched more on the History Channel than I ever imagined possible and with each event, I appreciate veterans more each day.
Especially World War II vets.
What amazing men they were, and to be so young fighting that war.
They were truly visitors to hell during that time.
Just 13 months following his graduation from Brazil High School, class of 1943, dad was in the Army at the ripe old age of 18.
He became a squad leader, was a carbine marksman and received the rank of Sergeant.
Dad participated in the Normandy Invasion D+1, Omaha Beach, Normandy, France.
He was wounded Aug. 14, 1944, and received the Purple Heart for those wounds.
The most extreme experience a human being can go through is being a combat infantryman, and nowhere in World War II was the combat more extreme than on Omaha Beach in the early morning hours of June 6, 1944.
It wasn't luck that these soldiers lived through this terrible time.
These children of the Depression turned into first-class fighting men.
They were well-trained and had good leaders and the Lord was with them every step of the way.
It's not like Hollywood.
There were machine guns, rifle fire all around, mortar fire, 88's and God knows what else these soldiers had to fight through.
Just getting from the LCA to the beach was a struggle.
A lot of their food, candy bars, K rations and cigarettes were ruined by machine-gun fire before they ever reached the beach, but they made it and this is why their glory can never fade.
As there are no exact figures possible, the best estimate of casualties is 4,900 by the time full darkness came to Normandy at the end of the day.
As General Dwight Eisenhower put it, "it's a wonderful thing to remember what those fellows were fighting for and sacrificing for, what they did to preserve our way of life. To think of the lives that were given for that principle, paying a terrible price on Omaha Beach along, on that one day, 2,000 casualties. But they did it so that the world could be free."
Let's not lose sight of that. Let's show more respect for these wonderful men and women who gave it all for us so that we can enjoy the freedom we have today. Shake their hands, thank them for all they have done and most of all ... respect the uniform.
If you see anyone in the military, be it in your local grocery store, post office, airport, at a ball game or just in the mall, thank them.
On this Loyalty Day, support your local veterans in any way possible.