Every November, as our nation pauses to honor the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces, I think about the men in my family who served our great nation.
Both of my grandfathers served in World War II; one as a Navy sailor and the other as an Army Ranger.
As a kid, I remember inspecting the contents of Grandpa Ford’s glass gun case with a profound sense of awe. It was filled with medals, knives, helmets and other relics he collected during the war. Eventually, I convinced him to tell me stories about his time in service while completing a book report for school. I remain inspired by how he overcame such hardships.
Grandpa Curry survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor while serving aboard the USS Oklahoma. I’ll always remember him as a loving man that was dedicated to his family and country. And I’ll never forget him leading renditions of “You Are My Sunshine” with his guitar at family get-togethers.
And, of course, there’s my Dad. He has given me so much love and support throughout my life, and I am truly grateful. It was his service in the Navy that brought our family to Jacksonville.
My story is not unique. Here in Jacksonville, nearly a quarter of our population is directly connected to the military, either as active duty, reserve, national guard, veteran, or a direct family member. That means that we as a community know the value of service and sacrifice.
You can see that appreciation on full display with the large crowds at the annual Jacksonville Veterans Day parade, Memorial Day Observance, and countless other events throughout the year.
Jacksonville is a proud military city and I am honored to serve as mayor for such a patriotic people.