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A Special Veteran

By Kelly Wilkinson

It’s funny how for most of life, Veterans Day was just a day to sleep in and not have to go to school, and then later, work. Veterans were old guys in hats with pins. But now, veterans are my contemporaries, and this day is a good one to visit one of the most beautiful places here: The San Francisco National Cemetery, which sits crisp and proud on rolling hills that slope down to the Bay.

None of my close friends or immediate family are currently in the military. But, like every American I know, all of my grandparents and their siblings did their part, including my amazing 93-year-old great-aunt Judy. She became the youngest woman ever to command a female branch of the US military, when she was named director of the Women Marines at age 36. I just found this article online from a 1953 Time magazine and teared up with pride as I read it. When we were kids, Judy was always quick to bodysurf with us at the beach after making sure we knew what to do in a riptide. She ate all the horrible ice cream concoctions we ever made, even the ones that included ketsup. The joy of her whole-body laugh makes your heart split open, and she still has the best posture of anyone I know.

Here’s to you, Judy. And everyone like you.

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