By Andy Kriege, YSN
In this second of a three-part series honoring those among us who served, we highlight two of the many honorable people in our extended AVB/BrandSource family who answered the call of duty.
Of course, Memorial Day is a time to honor and remember all the men and women who served our country faithfully. We salute all those who effectively gave a blank check payable to the rest of us, for an amount up to and including their lives.
Maybe they didn’t see action during wartime, or never served near hostile enemies, but the fact that they would willingly give their lives, if called upon, means that they all should be honored and remembered on Memorial Day and every day.
Toby Keith summarized the sentiment in this second verse from his 2003 song “American Soldier”:
And I can’t call in sick on Mondays
When the weekends been too strong
I just work straight through the holidays
And sometimes all night long
You can bet that I stand ready
When the wolf growls at the door
Hey, I’m solid, hey I’m steady
Hey I’m true down to the core
To those in uniform serving today and to those who have served in the past, we honor you and thank you for your sacrifice.
Jeff Tracy of Tracy’s Appliance in Lima, Ohio, reflected on his time in the service with mixed emotions. “I had the honor to serve our U.S. Army from 1970 through 1972, in the later years of the Vietnam conflict,” he told YSN. “I used to tell people half-jokingly that I’ve only traveled to two places: Kentucky and South Vietnam. And the only real difference was that, unlike my Asian vacation, I couldn’t understand anyone in Kentucky!”
But Tracy turned solemn when he recounted the day he departed for Vietnam, describing it as “the saddest day I ever bestowed upon my mother.” That’s because her only brother Jeff — a U.S. Marine and Tracy’s namesake — was killed in action in the South Pacific during World War II.
“I could never conceive how much pain that could have caused until I had children of my own,” he reflected.
Tracy, a past president of BrandSource, shared one of his favorite photos from the war (above), taken north of Da Nang in Phu Bai, sometime around December 1971. It was early in the morning, “just about the time we were headed out on a mission,” he said. “It was really hot that day, and I’m holding three bandoliers of ammunition and my helmet in my right hand. I shielded these items from the camera, as I did not want my mother to see them.”
“The military makes you appreciate the milestone dates in your life,” Tracy continued. These include the day he was drafted (Nov. 2, 1970) and his first day in Vietnam (July 21, 1971), which fell on his father’s birthday.
“My last image of Vietnam from a U.S.A.-bound airplane window was my mother’s birthday, May 10, 1972,” he said. “And the date I commemorate every year is the day I stepped back on my front porch at home on May 12, 1972. That day also happened to be my last day as a soldier.”
Tracy noted that “Memorial Day has always been a special day for our family, as we are a multi-generation military family. My grandfather, my uncle and my father served before me, and our son-in-law is currently serving as well.”
The Tracy’s traditionally observe the holiday by attending mass services at the cemetery where family members lie. “It is a great honor to show respect to people that I never had the chance to even meet,” he said. “But they committed to offer themselves up for their fellow countrymen. I’m proud of my participation and the path my life has taken.”
Loren Atchley is the incoming Region Manager for the South Atlantic members and will work with the retiring Harry Buntyn through the end of the year as he transitions into his new role.
Atchley proudly served his country from 1991 through 1996 as a member of the 1st Marine Division out of Camp Pendleton in California, but spent much of his time deployed overseas. Reflecting on Memorial Day with the solemnity of a former soldier, he said, “I like to take this time to remember all of my brothers that I served with and those who went before me. We would do anything for each other and for our country.”
Our Memorial Day tribute to BrandSource members and staff continues on Monday.
BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, mattress, furniture and CE dealers.