Before our ragtag group of colonies ever dreamt of calling themselves a country our farms have been offering up their best and brightest to serve, battle and protect in the name of freedom, liberty and country. As we honour those men and women on this Veterans Day, who have given so much, I thought it only fitting to remember one man, one farmer, one boy to whom I am eternally grateful but, like so many, I will never know.
There is this man I did not know. For me he exists in black & white and in early, faded Kodak colours. I know so many things about him. I know he was a devoted son, a gentle man, a wonderful husband and the kindest father.
Dana Page Sturtevant was like any boy who grew up in uncertain times and with hardship as a constancy and norm. He spent his childhood working hard, going to school and loving baseball.
This man was Captain of his High School baseball team in 1933…his faded socks kept on a shelf for safekeeping by his great-grandson
He dove headlong into work on the railroad right out of school, but like so many of his time when Duty whispered low he replied, “I can.” In April of 1942, at the age of 27, this man I did not know became a Marine.
He was “Pops” to all around him in the jungles, and on the beaches of the South Pacific, and his years there were exactly as one would imagine and fear. But like most of those who have sacrificed and served it is not those years that made them great. It was, and continues to be, the lives they lived here with us that make the mark and raise the standard by which we judge our fellow humans.
He was a wonderful husband.
He was the kindest father.
And I know he would have been the most perfect grandfather.
He would have loved and cherished that role. But fate has a different plan for many of us.
This man I did not know lived to fix things for it could not be broken long with him around. He went all the way to town to buy a wrench only to find out that it was made in a country he spent years battling and didn’t hesitate to return it and get his money back. This man I did not know was legendary for his epic camping adventures and road-trips with family to almost every Civil War battle site.
This man I did not know I owe everything to from the father of my children to the freedoms I enjoy and embrace. His years of sacrifice, service and devotion are not wasted and certainly not forgotten. I do know that he and so many others are due the thanks of a grateful nation. On this day, and on every day, it is remembered that all that I know to be right, just, and free I owe to all those names and faces I never knew, and all those around me who have or continue to serve…including this man I did not know.