Blake Harrison, son of a veteran
November 15, 2019
My dad was in the national guard, which is the army. It was a little bit before I was born and he didn’t go to college. His job was to find bombs, so like IEDs and all of that kind of stuff. He’d be like a spotter and got to sit sometimes days out in the field waiting for a bomb squad to come out to diffuse it. If they’d be driving, they’d have to spot like a trash bag out on the side of the road and check. I didn’t see him a whole lot for the first two years of my life. When I was two was about when I saw him. And it wasn’t like he was just an absent father, he was just deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was mad a lot. He was a good fighter and he had a lot of anger from his dad leaving when he was young. [Serving] just helped him to get a grip on stuff. He wanted to and he felt like he should serve his country. To me, [the most important thing] is appreciation. All of the modern things that we have, we probably wouldn’t have right now if we didn’t have people fighting for us. And it’s just crazy that people were dying every day for people like us, everyday people, who don’t really acknowledge the fact that there are wars going on.
I was always taught to stand for the pledge because, one, my dad [served] and his friends have died in the army. He’s watched some of them die. So it’s just like a respect thing. I don’t want to see people not stand for the Pledge and the Anthem. It’s disrespectful, but it’s also not our place to tell who’s right and who’s wrong. That is their liberty and that’s what the soldiers are fighting for. [For Veterans Day], sometimes we go and visit my great grandfather’s grave. He was a tank operator. But [for the] Fourth of July, we always go out to Home Depot and we just sit out in the parking lot with family and light fireworks off and listen to like patriotic music.
[But I’ve seen] PTSD in my dad’s dad. He’s a good dude. He looks a lot like my dad, maybe a little bit shorter. He’s a really nice dude, he’s funny and he’s got a super deep voice, but those explosions that get set off, if you look into his eyes, it’s like he’s not there. He’s there but he’s not. He looks like he’s in a distant place and he doesn’t know what’s going on. He blacks out basically and thinks he’s still at war. He’ll just start swinging because he thinks he’s cornered or something. I don’t know. It’s scary and it’s a reality that people don’t face because they think [veterans] are just crazy. And they kind of are, it just takes something away from you. This has happened twice and since then, we haven’t lit off fireworks around him. We just don’t want to test it again.
Homelessness of veterans. That, more than anything, gets my dad. Just for someone that’s put everything on the line, lost limbs, friends, family, to see them be homeless, that’s something that bothers a lot of vets that I’ve known.