“Everyone has a story. A reason ‘why’ to serve others. A person, or hero, that ignited the flame of service. For me, that is my Dad.
Joining the Navy years before I was born, my father signed up to support our freedom. He also signed up to miss countless bath times, family meals and special awards ceremonies at my school. He missed births and graduations. But he SERVED.
As a young child, I didn’t quite understand the sacrifice, but I did understand the lifestyle. Our family lived on base. We moved often and great distances. We said hello to new neighbors, and shortly thereafter said goodbye to great friends. Sometimes my father left for months at a time. We would stand by the shore, waving our hands with fervor at passing Navy fleet; hoping our fingers would magically carry our love across the ocean and into our Dad’s heart. Twice a day, regardless the circumstance, we stopped and faced the flag; paying tribute to its rising and falling. The National Anthem, Pledge of Allegiance, deployments, homecomings, loud airplanes and being surrounded by fencing and guards were part of our daily lives. American Pride resonated from person to person; from street to street.
As I grew older, I learned more about my father’s service. His time in war. His time in the Chaplain’s office. I saw the wear on his physical and mental wellness, as he ‘did his job’ day in and day out. I saw his silent tears when he thought no one noticed. Tears of joy, pride and sorrow. I saw the respect he had earned and the comradery with his colleagues on days I was too sick to go to school (but not sick enough to go check out the worship services my Dad helped prepare every week). Quietly, without pomp or circumstance, my father gave the better part of his life to our U.S. Navy.
Of course, there is much more to my story. From military brat to military spouse. From military spouse to civilian spouse. The journey continues but one thing remains the same. I Give an Hour™ because of my Dad. I see the true impact of service on his life both and through his journey I have learned how important civilians acts of service, donations, respect and day to day volunteerism can change lives. We all can give something, what can you give?”- Erin Leigh McNair (Timmermans) serves as the Director of Military and Family Programs for Give an Hour.