My Dad is My Hero
A Tribute to Veterans
Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 16:11
Veterans Day awakens a current of emotions for soldiers and their families. As the daughter of a veteran, I feel an overwhelming tide of pride roll in every year at this time. My dad is a Chief Warrant Officer, abbreviated as a CW 5, in the North Dakota National Guard. In civilian terms, this means he holds the highest ranking among pilots. In daughter terms, this means my dad is my hero.
It was seven years ago that my dad announced his deployment, specifically saying he won an “all-expense paid trip to Afghanistan.” It was seven years ago, but I still remember that concave collapse in my chest the morning he left, how the soft glow of the headlights became swallowed by the pitch-black night. I still remember the emptiness our lonely house without his raucous, infectious laughter.
It was seven years ago I fought my fear of crowds, sweaty palms and buckling knees to deliver speech in front of my entire high school. I will use excerpts of that speech in this article as a tribute of gratitude to my dad, NDSU veterans and their families, of course.
As a little girl, I remember seeing my dad walk out the out the door in his camouflage green flight suit and shiny black boots. I knew his uniform was different from the suit and tie my friends’ dads wore, and he had a different kind of nine-to-five job. I fondly recall laughing when he bought an army Barbie doll for me at a military base. I didn’t yet grasp the meaning of his job that took him time zones, seas, and climates away from me to serve our country.
To me, he has always been, just simply put, my old man. My old man, my dad, is the one who caught me after my first fall off my pink banana seat bike ride with no training wheels, saving me from the brutal scrapes. It was inevitable that I would fall, and when I did, he would be there to comfort me and play Dr. Dad. He is the one that battled the fierce North Dakota weather during soccer season or was plagued with bleacher butt during basketball season, with the video camera glued to his arm at every sporting event of mine.
From the rare championship game, to the more frequent ugly losses, my dad was there. To him, it didn’t matter if I played like an all-star or played like a rookie, he loved every minute of it just because I was playing. He praised me when I deserved it, or simply patted me on the back and let me cry on his shoulder when I knew I didn’t play to my potential.
Reflecting on the rich past I have with my dad, I realize how much I missed him when he was gone. More than anything, I missed the little things of which I often took for granted. I missed his little post it reminder notes sprinkled throughout the house and the quiet mornings spent together perusing the paper. I even missed the annoying things he did, which in retrospect weren’t all that irritating, such as leaving his dirty, holey socks around the house and blaring country music, which just happens to be my least favorite kind of music, in the car. These things that once bothered me were overshadowed by his good qualities-- generosity, sense of humor, loyalty and kindness. That is a long way of affirming the old adage that distance really does make the heart grow fonder.
My heart was brimming seven years ago as my dad arrived home from Afghanistan in time for my high school graduation. The familiar roar of an airplane soaring overhead announced his arrival, and our family reunited.
It reminded me of running up the hill in the backyard, jumping on the electricity box with outstretched arms, waving to the sky with pride to announce, “That’s my dad!”
Tessa is a senior majoring in English.