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The blue star that hung in the window

His 1942 Greenville High School Varsity football jacket hangs in my closet, bagged and protected. He loved to talk about his football days and how he played center, a small, wiry frame that could move quickly. He laughed as he recalled the exploits of himself, Mr. Billy Calhoun and so many others who had an all-star and undefeated team that season.

I don't care where I may move to, but that football jacket is going with me.

My father, Theo Grayson, joined the Navy in 1943 and served until 1946. He met my mother, Emmie Lou Grayson, as she sold movie tickets at the ticket booth of the Ritz Theatre in downtown Greenville. She said he was wearing his Navy uniform and was the most handsome thing she had ever seen.

I'm so glad they met.

With this being July 4, I think about my dad and his service to his country. He would tell me that one of his jobs was to load the bombs into the bomb bays. This was a very dangerous job, so only the men who were single were allowed to do it. At that time, that left my father and one other man. Daddy said he saw one of his friends get blown up when one of the bombs exploded one day.

I guess I have no idea what real tragedy is.

And, hanging right underneath those two college diplomas of mine, there is something that actually means a whole lot more to me.

During World War II, families who had relatives in the war would hang a blue star surrounded by a red and white square in the windows of their homes so everyone who passed by would know how many family members they had serving their country.

That crinkled piece of red, white and blue silk with that one blue star in the center means more to me than any of those diplomas I've earned.

And, next to my dad's 1942 GHS football jacket is my oldest brother Van's Army jacket. He served in Vietnam from 1970 to 1971. One of my favorite letters that my mom still has of his tells how he got to see Bob Hope during a Christmas show in Vietnam, and how excited he was about that. I was just a little girl, but to read that letter today still brings tears to my eyes because Van said that he bet I was glad &#8220the boys” were out of school so I'd have somebody to play with. &#8220The boys,” of course, were my other brothers, Lamar and Britt.

Wars. Freedoms. Rights. Privileges.

How in the name of all that is good and right in this world can we take anything for granted?

This July 4, I think I'll go check on my daddy's football jacket and my brother's Army jacket. I just love to look at them. And as I touch that piece of crinkled silk with the one blue star in the center, I'll realize, once again, that I'll never be thankful enough for those who have served and who have given the ultimate sacrifice for this great country.

And for me.

Regina Grayson is managing editor of The Luverne Journal. She can be reached at 335-3541 or by email,: regina.grayson@luvernejournal.com.