Monday, November 11 is Veterans Day, but the Avenue News is celebrating early.

We’ve been showcasing veterans in our community in this issue.

As a granddaughter of veterans, I have grown up knowing the sacrifices our troops have made and continue to make every day. I would like to thank all our veterans — especially my two grandfathers.

There is not a single day that goes by when I don’t think about them both. They have both passed away, and I often reminisce about them and how much I miss them being in my life.

I remember how my grandpa Schlarb would always hum little songs while he drove in the car, how he would pat my leg and say, “I’m so proud of you KK” and how genuinely happy he was about the smallest things in life.

I remember when my grandpa Kulich taught me how to lift weights and how he instilled in me at a young age that girls could be just as strong as boys. I now think of him every day I’m at the gym or running outside.

I strive to be as strong, as joyful about life and as generous towards others as my grandpas were.

I am proud to call these two men my grandpas because they not only provided me with unconditional love and valuable life lessons, but they also protected and defended for our freedoms by serving in the U.S. Army. I like to honor them every day for their service—especially on Veterans Day.

Curt Shlarb enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1967 and was sent to Vietnam in 1968. He was stationed at the Cam Ranh Airforce Base which was the major military seaport used by the United States for the offloading of supplies, military equipment and as a major naval base.

Grandpa Schlarb was fortunate to not experience any combat and was able to return to my grandma. He had to leave her right after they got married before he was deployed. Once he returned to her the two never left each other's sides.

Bill Kulich Sr. served during the Korean War and was stationed at Fort Bragg, which was and still is an artillery training ground for the U.S. Army. Grandpa Kulich was assigned to a dental clinic and wore a red cross on his uniform to signify he was able to assist with first aid. He was fortunate to also never experience direct combat and was able to return to my grandma who he loved dearly his entire life.

Neither of my grandpas spoke too much about their time serving in the army but both were proud of their country and quick to thank other veterans and active service members.

Grandpa Schlarb always made sure to pray for and thank our troops before we would all sit down for a meal and was so happy when he was recognized at my elementary school’s Veterans Day celebration.

Grandpa Kulich could still remember up until his final days all the lyrics to a military song he learned while stationed at Fort Bragg. He sang the song to me while I sat with him at the kitchen table—his favorite spot in the house.

Reminiscing these memories I have of my grandpas makes losing them a little easier to bare and I hope others can do the same for their lost loved ones.

Thank you to all our veterans who selflessly put their personal needs and desires aside to fight and defend our freedoms. You all, especially my grandpas, are truly my role models. God bless you.

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