Columnist remembers special vet

Tonya Fennell

Veterans Day has come and gone.

Although the day is meant to honor living servicemembers, it always reminds me of my maternal grandfather who died many years ago.
Like many young men his age, my grandfather enlisted in the Navy when he was only 17 years old during World War II.

I don’t know how long or even where he served because I was young and never thought to ask. However, I do know he looked extremely handsome in his uniform. A black and white photograph of my grandfather and grandmother hung in the bedroom I slept in at their house. In the picture, my grandfather is wearing his black sailor’s uniform and and his white cap is sitting far back on his head.

My grandmother told me the picture was taken the day my grandfather proposed. I don’t know what happened to the picture, but I can still see it clearly in my mind.

One thing I do know about my grandfather’s service was that he was in long enough to get two tattoos — an anchor adorned each forearm. On the left arm, several words were written in Latin. I can’t remember if he ever told me what the words meant, but to this day I wish I knew.

My grandfather was a proud member of the American Legion and participated in every veteran-related event in our small Texas town. He taught me and my sisters to spit, shoot BB guns and fish. But, most importantly he taught us to respect our elders, especially veterans, and to be proud that we are lucky enough to be born American.

So, I am grateful to him and to all the servicemembers who selflessly give of themselves for my freedom.

Tonya Fennell is the news coordinator for Cannon Connections. She can be reached by e-mailing: