It was an early and unseasonably warm day on December 12, 2015, day when we arrived to begin our work with Wreaths Across America. It was the day I learned the meaning of Christmas, grief, sympathy, and humility.
Although I never served in the military, I come from a long line of proud soldiers and sailors on both sides of my family. In fact, I think we cover every branch except the Air Force. I am proud of, and honored to be related to such an amazing group of people and am so grateful for their service and the sacrifices they and their families have made. One of the people of whom I am most proud is my late grandfather Clayton Graybill. Until last weekend, I only knew that he served in the Army in the Pacific during World War II. I thought he was a member of a field artillery unit, but he died before I was old enough to know what questions to ask.
Pappy, as I always knew him, was a good man. He epitomized “The Greatest Generation”. He was a humble, hardworking, generous, loyal, kind man. He died when I was living out of state, and I was unable to return for his funeral. Never saying goodbye to him has haunted me throughout the years. As soon as I was able to get back, we went to visit his grave at Fort Indiantown Gap National Cemetery in Annville, PA. As I sat in the grass crying my eyes out, I looked up and right at the tree line was a huge deer, a buck, just standing there looking in our direction. At that moment, I knew my grandfather’s spirit was embodied in that majestic animal. Five seconds later, it was gone. It was Pappy’s way of saying, “I’m here, I know you are, thank you.” That’s the kind of man he was; simple and unassuming. Continue reading