Last year, to celebrate Veteran's Day, I took some space here on the blog to tell some baseball-related stories about the veteran closest to my life, my older brother. He was, at the time, beginning his second tour of duty in Iraq. Well, it's now a year later and Casey is safely returned home and retired from the Army. He started his first non-military job just last month, and we are all quite pleased with that.
Just because he's safe at home, though, doesn't mean Veteran's Day is any less important or worth honoring. With that in mind, I have reproduced that Veteran's Day post below. It's personal to me, of course, but I think it's a story worth sharing. We are thankful everyday that Casey is home safe and no longer in harm's way. But that isn't the case for everyone. So, please, take the time today to honor or thank the veterans that you know in some way. They make a difference, and so does your appreciation.
My formative years, in terms of my love for baseball at least, spanned ages 8 through 11. At that time, my family (with five kids) was quite poor, and we lived in apartments. I don't know the exact reasons - I would guess the annual rent increases - but we would move from one apartment complex to another about every two years. In fact, until I was 15 or 16, I don't think I ever celebrated more than two Christmases in a row in the same home. Not that I'm complaining. I knew we were poor, of course, but I rarely felt it. Which, for a kid, is great.
My two older brothers and I had plenty to keep us busy, but what we came back to most often was baseball and baseball cards. This was the late '80s, so packs of cards were still only 50 cents, affordable(ish) even to a bunch of poor kids. We'd make the trek to the Payless Drug Store around the corner every chance we could to pick up a pack or two of the beautifully blue-bordered 1988 Donruss, with it's Warren Spahn puzzle pieces and wonderfully illustrated Diamond Kings (Kal Daniels! Scott Fletcher! Tommy John!), or the still-classic 1988 and 1989 Topps (how many Gregg Jefferies' "Future Stars" cards could a kid get?!). Of course, "every chance we could" to us was maybe twice a month. Fifty cents wasn't a lot of money, but it's not like quarters were falling out of the sky either.
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