Today, my late grandfather, CPO William Coates, has been on my mind.
Grandpa was a typical man for his generation. He rarely talked about himself. He fought in two great wars - WWII and Korea - and retired a Chief Petty Officer, E-7, in the Navy. The fowled anchor proved prescient. Cancer forced retirement upon him. Otherwise he might have made Senior Chief. The good Lord spared his life from end-stage lymphoma. The docs sent him home to die, every organ ripe with malignancy. The docs called his recovery a medical oddity, an anomaly. My grandmother called it what it was - a miracle. My grandfather said he was saved, twice.
Grandpa didn't wear his service like chevrons on his sleeve. You almost had to pry the information out of him. Oh, he loved the Navy and the USA, he'd sing the songs like "Gee, Mom I Want to Go Home" and reminisce about the war, but always at a carefully metered distance from its harsh realities.
He, like those of his generation, bore the hardship of war in quiet isolation. Only in retrospect has the family begun to appreciate the depth of his emotional wounds.
Today, I gathered my boys in our living room and reminisced about my grandpa, about the true meaning of Memorial Day. About the greatness of our country and why it's unique in the world as a beacon of liberty, as the chief exporter of freedom across the globe, because of men like William Coates.
My first book was dedicated to grandpa. I, quite literally, owe my entire being to the man. And though my guys will never meet him this side of the veil, they will hear his story.
Here's to CPO William Coates: father, husband, grandfather, warfighter, Christ-follower, and friend.