Sam Byrd Day a perfect prelude to a week honoring vets

Dear Dad,

I wish you could have been with mom and me last Saturday. We were at Zion Baptist Church to celebrate “Sam Byrd Day.” Sam received Kentucky Veteran of the Year last year and was recently inducted into the Kentucky Veterans’ Hall of Fame. In Sam’s usual way, no one knew about it until after the fact. His humility is definitely an example for all of us.

The sanctuary was overflowing with people from all over the community. Sam’s friends, family, fellow volunteers from all of the organizations he serves, elected officials and fans came to honor him. It was emotional. What an example Zion gave us by honoring a person in our midst. What a gift it was for everyone there to look at a man who means so much to so many lives and say “well done.” It made me think of those in my life — and in our town — who I need to honor and thank now.

When Sam made it to the podium after receiving so many accolades, he spent his time talking to the group about veterans programs and instructed vets and widows of vets on accessing care and aid. His concern for others in the group who may have been dealing with health or emotional issues — especially those that were service related — was straight from his heart.

What I couldn’t say that day, because I was too emotional to make sense, was the gift that Sam gave to our family years ago. Once he became your boss at Bell South, you relaxed. I never knew Sam was in Vietnam until last week. I guess I should have known. He seemed to understand you. And the mutual respect you had for one another was obvious. The fact that he helped you make your decision to retire was one of the most significant gifts ever given to our family. The year between your retirement and your cancer diagnosis was one of the best years of our lives. And I feel like we owe a lot of that to Sam Byrd. I know you do, too.

Happy Veterans Day and Happy Birthday to the Corps (one day late).

Semper Fi,