A Message from Board Member Ron Maxa
Growing up, Memorial Day was always a big deal. My parents were both veterans of the U.S. Army. My father served in Vietnam and later met my mother while they were both stationed in Germany. They fell in love (though she could not stand him at first) and married. After returning back to the states, my father continued to serve in the Army Reserves before retirement from the military in 1992.
While growing up, we learned quickly from my parents the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. Veterans Day is where we recognize all the men and women that served in the Armed Forces. Memorial Day is dedicated to those that lost their lives as a result of their service. Though – let’s be honest – there is never a wrong day to thank a veteran.
As my father got older, his health gradually worsened. Years of doctor visits and increased complications led to research which showed his condition was a result of exposure to Agent Orange from his time serving in Vietnam. Things continued to get worse for him. He developed rheumatoid arthritis and later discovered he suffered from myeloproliferative disease which causes your body to attack healthy blood cells. Transfusions, more medication, hospital stays soon followed. He fought hard but ultimately passed away on July 14, 2012.
My father was an incredible man who overcame hardships from an early age but never let it define him or hold him back. He was my hero, my role model, my inspiration – he was my father. I miss him very much and think about him often. My mother, two sisters, brother, and I continue to honor his service but now we do it on Memorial Day instead of Veterans Day. A sad transition but one we try to do with our heads held high because that is what he would want. He never wanted people to be sad for him. That is why at his funeral he insisted on having cold beer on hand with a sign that read, “Last one’s on me!”
This is a hard story to tell. But it is a story that I will do my best to share with my kids and their kids so it is never forgotten. I understand the importance of keeping stories alive, and that is why I’m a board member of The History Center.
The History Center preserves and tells the stories of Linn County. As you think about those you will be remembering this Memorial Day, please consider a gift to The History Center in their honor. It’s a wonderful way to demonstrate your lasting gratitude and love. Join me in helping The History Center continue its good work.
You can, of course, also honor the living with your gift. The special person in your life will receive a letter letting them know that you have demonstrated your appreciation with a gift to The History Center.
All gifts will be acknowledged on The History Center’s website, and we will list those whose honor and memory the gifts recognize.
Make this Memorial Day even more meaningful by giving to The History Center. Together, we can preserve the stories of those most dear to us.