As Long as the last person who remembers you.
My dad was a tough-as-nails, Vietnam-era Marine Corps Drill Instructor. He loved his country, his family, and the Corps. He took the Semper Fidelis oath to heart and never stopped giving back to his fellow servicemen and women - No matter what branch.
His name was R. Lee Ermey. He passed away in April.
I can’t bring my dad back. I’ve spent a lot of time meditating on that - How to keep him close, to honor him, and to thank him.
My dad once said, “Nobody seems much interested in helping veterans, but other veterans,” which is why he spent time visiting troops overseas and in the hospital, collecting toys for their families at Christmas time, and rebuilding homes for them. It seems to me that the best way to keep him alive is to honor his tradition of giving to the military community.
The Fisher House provides shelter to military families so that they can stay near their loved ones in the hospital. If you've ever supported a loved one while they've endured a long-term hospital stay, you know how exhausting emotionally and financially it can be.
My family grew to know the route from hotel to hospital room intimately, the routine relay of tapping each other out after a long night of "sleep" alongside my dad. I don’t know what we would have done without a homebase.
The last night and morning I spent with my dad, I stayed alone in a hotel, a seedy place outside a giant beer factory in Burbank, nearly 40 miles away from his hospital, which was in Santa Monica. It was the closest affordable hotel I could find.
I realize I’m lucky because there are a lot of families who can’t afford even that. That’s why this year I’m running the Marine Corps Marathon to raise money for Fisher House. Everyone should be able to stay near their loved ones when they are needed.
It’s been years since I’ve run more than a few miles, but I’m ticking them off week by week. The runs can be difficult, but I feel like I’m running toward and not away from something and for a good cause. I also feel like I’ve got this really tough-loving coach hanging on my shoulder, talking me through the miles.
Any donation you can give is appreciated. I can’t say for sure but I feel the whole endeavor would be Gunny Approved.
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