Great Grandaddy Pippen fought in the trenches in WWI. He was wounded, lost, and left for dead in no man’s land, but managed to claw his way back to safety after several days. Grandpa Jim served on a horse-drawn artillery unit, before the army disbanded them. Then went on to fly on submarine patrol for the Army Air Corp in WWII. Grandpa Stan was an MP at Pearl Harbor during the attack, and dodged an explosion by diving under a jeep. He was an ornery old cuss though, so no one really knows much about his time in the Army after that. Grandpa Tom was a fighter pilot in the Air Force, flying combat missions over Vietnam. He also served as an Air Marshall, a fleet manager for NASA, a crash investigator for the NTSB, and still gives the best guided tour at the new Smithsonian Air & Space museum. My Father was a combat engineer in the Green Berets, my Uncle Stewart, flew Cobras for the Army in Desert Storm, and on top of all of that, i have been, and still am surrounded by family friends, close friends, kids i grew up with, and fans at my show that all served in some branch of the armed forces. Armed service, and war in general will always be a complex and divisive issue, but today is not a day for politics and debate. Today is a day for appreciation and empathy, in hopes to gain some modicum of understanding of everything that must be sacrificed by those that served. So that folks like myself have the luxury to live the comfortable lives that we are now afforded.
Pictured above, is my Grandpa Tom’s USAF pilot’s wings, which he gave to me as a gift, the day i graduated from college. It is a small token, but still one of my most prized possessions, and without a doubt, both literally, and symbolically the greatest gift i have ever been given.
"We will be soldiers, so our sons may be farmers, so their sons many be artists" -Thomas Jefferson