OnFocus – As we kick off the unofficial start of summer this weekend, I want to dedicate this post to the men and women who have served in our military branches and given their lives while serving our country. Often, I think about their sacrifices that they and their families have given up for our freedoms.
As I thought about a name to represent the blog Thankful Outdoors, the military and being thankful for the freedoms they protect for us were part of the equation. As I thought about what the outdoors meant to me and others, the word thankful kept coming up as a common word. Hence the creation of Thankful Outdoors!
This time of year, my memories of my grandpas are stirred just a little bit more. They are both war veterans, and they were both avid fishermen. I will stop by to visit them for a bit throughout the fishing season. During this time of year, I stand looking at the little flags and wonder what the stories of each of the veterans are!
Each one of them gave me great memories of fishing with them! Two things that these guys with entirely different backgrounds had in common were fishing and being tinkerers. These guys were just handy and knew how to fix stuff.
My enjoyment of pursuing panfish comes from them. I can’t help but look at crappie and not see a memory of Grandpa Hopperdietzel and Grandpa Fischer. Both boats that I had fished with them from are still in the family. One of them sits in my driveway as a future restoration project, and my parents still use the other.
Both of them messed around with making their jigs, either pouring lead jigs or tying on their deer tail skirts or feather skirts. I also mess around with that hobby as a memory of those two guys. These little activities I hang onto to keep and hold the memories that they gave me.
Grandpa Hopperdietzel passed away in my early childhood years; I was 11 years old when he passed away. I think about him on my birthday and wish we could still spend the day fishing together. That was a thing we had was to go fishing on my birthday.
Grandpa Fischer passed away in my adult life; besides fishing together in my youth, I miss sitting in the driveway after mowing his lawn and just spending time listening to his stories and talking. I heard so many of the stories repeated over and over, but it didn’t matter. I would come back to mow the lawn and hear them over again. He would share stories about how he hated snakes, how he enjoyed horses, what it was like working at Land O’ Lakes, how he joined the Navy but never learned to swim.
The question sometimes asked, “If you had the opportunity to spend a day with someone you miss, who would it be?” My answer to this question would always be, “I wish I could spend a day in the boat with these two guys.” I never did get a chance to fish with them together at the same time.
When sitting around the campfire or the grill this weekend, take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices a veteran gave for the freedom you are enjoying. Think about the sacrifices made, their time away from family, the training, the challenges that they endured, and most of all, the enormous sacrifice they gave to us, which is the point of this Federal Holiday. They gave their life defending our freedoms!
In closing, I hope you find a way to get into the outdoors, create your adventure and memories, but most importantly, find a way to “Celebrate the Experience.” Go check out www.thankfuloutdoors.com for more content and share your “Celebrate the Experience” moment with us!
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