George Worthy
George Worthy

Did you find something different in your mailbox this past weekend? By different I mean something that wasn’t there. By something that wasn’t there, I mean my weekly scribbling. I have to tell you that it was all my fault. 

You see, like all newspapers, there are certain things that have to fall into place in order for you to have something to read as you drink your morning coffee. The word “Deadline!” has been burned into my psyche. I didn’t meet the deadline set out by our newspaper to make sure the presses run with all the news fit to print, and so something else had to be done. As I told the editor, “It won’t happen again.” So here is what was supposed to be in last week.

2023 Veteran of the Year Awards

Hello Dear Readers! What did you do this weekend? Mow the lawn? Wash and wax the car? How about someone making you feel as though you had done something really worthwhile? If you indulge me a bit, I would like to highlight some folks who have given their time to help others who, for whatever reason, needed a hand to get on with their lives?

I think I should tell you about my weekend. I was invited over to the Bayonet Black Horse golf course, along with a sizable crowd who were honored for their service to the veterans in our county. I was truly blessed to be invited, along with my family, to the ceremony.

The place was crowded with veterans who had given of their time, talent and treasure to help those veterans that came back from a war with memories that they wanted to forget. Or perhaps they felt that they could give up their evening at home to join others that remembered men and women that are no longer with us. The place was filled with hearty hellos and handshaking and smiles.

The speakers were excellent and dedicated to recognizing the veterans of Monterey County. Rear Vice Admiral, (Retired) Ann E. Rondeau, the President of the Naval Post Graduate School, was the guest speaker. I could fill this essay with all the assignments and positions she has held in service to our country. She spoke so eloquently about the veterans she has known and worked with.

The veterans being honored this evening were an assortment of dedicated former active duty men and women who stepped forward when our nation called and gave of their time and treasure to protect our nation.

My name was called to come up to the dais to accept an award from many different local politicians for the time I had put into the military, the local American Legion and various other community service. The best part of the evening, as far as I am concerned, was when my name was called and I was asked to say a few words. 

All I could do was to turn to my table, and with a tear in my eyes, I was able to introduce my family. They had come from distance points of California to be with me when I received recognition of my dedication to the veterans of our area.

Family is the most important group of individuals who give what they have to make sure the Soldier, Sailor and Airman knows that there is someone who cares and is proud of their sacrifice to protect our shores from foreign aggressors.

I have known lots of veterans who denigrated the military while they served, but I have never met a veteran who would refuse an assignment if they were called upon once again. Pride in self and duty to our country is lifelong. Most of them will admit that they hold their duty to America as a high point in their lives. It certainly was for me. 

I was very touched when asked if I would accept the award as Veteran of the Year for District 3. I felt at home with the other members of our, shall I say family? When my name was called, I was startled to hear a great roar from my table. My daughter, who is one of the best things about my life, had primed all the people at our table to give a cheer. It brought a smile to the Master of Ceremonies and a smile on my face that could be seen a mile away. OK, maybe not a mile, but for sure a long way off.

When I walked up to the podium and was handed a microphone, I knew exactly what I was going to say, and then I forgot the words. I was a little choked up. My wife has held my hands while learning about PTSD and what it did to the men who had seen such terrible sights in war. When we first started dating each other, Lorraine was a little taken aback by some of the things I did and how I reacted to any situation that was stressful.

My daughter, who also learned about PTSD so she could understand better my reaction to different stimuli, was smiling a smile that only she and I understood. I know it was difficult for her to deal with a wounded soldier at 5 years of age. My sons, thank the Lord, have been spared some of the darker side of my life. Lorraine and Tara helped them see what brought about my instant anger over the slightest thing.

I realize that this column has a lot about me and my family, and if that turns you off, I’m sorry. I just can’t help praising all the members of my family, for they are the reward I have been given for the trials I have seen. At first I tried to explain to them what it was like to see the horrors of war. Then I saw they didn’t care about that. They only cared that I was home and that we were a family.

So that’s my report for the past week. I must say that it was great to be recognized as a veteran and to associate with those that have seen the bear coming over the mountain. It is perhaps more difficult to write of something I am so close to. Whatever I am called upon to do, if it is for my family, I am the first in line to go.

Veterans Day was last Saturday, and I hope you celebrated in some way with a veteran you love.

God Bless.

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Gonzales columnist George Worthy may be reached at [email protected].


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