This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of The J.M. Smucker Company. All opinions and content are my own. I’m partnering with Folgers® at Walmart through the Share A Cup & A Story campaign, to create personal connections with Veterans and honor their service to our country.
When you think about the United States of America, common themes often come to mind. Independence, freedom of speech, and the American dream are just some of the ideals associated with America. Those ideas were won through the efforts of others, many of whom even gave up their lives. As Veterans Day approaches, it’s a good opportunity to teach kids about the wonderful nation we live in and what was required to achieve our independence.
There’s nothing like sharing a story over a cup of coffee. Folgers® Classic Roast from Walmart is a great beverage to enjoy all times of year but especially on crisp fall days as the weather gets colder. My parents recently visited and I had the opportunity to ask my dad, a United States Veteran and Captain in the United States Navy, about ways I can teach my own children how to appreciate America’s freedoms. Celebrating Veterans Day is an opportunity for our family to reflect on the blessings we enjoy (like a cup of coffee) and security that was won through the sacrificial service of others.
Growing up I heard stories of my dad’s service in the Navy, but I didn’t often consider how our military’s efforts help provide the freedoms we have. Veterans Day can help us reflect on that service and remind us to thank the individuals who have fought for our country.
My Dad’s 30-Year Naval Career
- Commissioned in 1967 as an Ensign, U.S. Navy, in the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps, University of Virginia.
- Awarded Naval Aviator Wings following flight training at Pensacola, Florida, and Corpus Christi, Texas.
- Accomplished over 300 combat missions flying the OV-10A “Bronco” in South East Asia.
- Flew the OV-10A and T-2C “Buckeye” Navy jet trainer as they came off the production line of North American Aviation, Columbus, Ohio.
- Flew the S-2G “Tracker” conducting carrier-based anti-submarine warfare operations out of San Diego.
- Made the first deployment with the S-3A “Viking” on the John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier, conducting carrier-based anti-submarine warfare operations in the Mediterranean Ocean.
- Conducted developmental test flights of various aircraft at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland.
- Transitioned into the Navy Reserves and served as a Naval Intelligence Officer at the Pentagon.
- Completed 30-year Navy career at Buckley Air Force Base in Denver, Colorado.
CAPT Peter Dunn, U.S. Navy
How have veterans primarily influenced our nation in your opinion?
There are approximately 20 million military veterans who served in all branches of the military. These men and women are the principle reason the United States has been able to maintain our freedoms, and also enable the U.S. to be a principle leader in keeping peace in the world. Veterans have been willing to serve around the globe in harm’s way, and even sacrifice their lives to this end.
How can parents help kids appreciate the freedoms that have been won for them?
Parents can help their children appreciate our freedoms by teaching them the history of our country, of the wars that have been fought to protect freedom, and of the cost that men and women have paid to maintain freedom. They can visit national cemeteries, observe veterans parades and patriotic events, and meet veterans of World War II and the Korean War while they are still alive.
What are some ways kids and young adults can contribute to our country’s well-being?
Children and young adults can contribute to our country by learning to serve others, and put community and national interests before self-interest. Organizations like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Civil Air Patrol, Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, and church youth groups can be invaluable. “Service before self” is a common theme. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” is the Biblical mandate.
What top lesson did you learn as a U.S. Veteran?
I learned to be willing to step out in faith and serve my community and my country by leaving my comfort zone and taking risks that I would not normally take. Serving as a Naval Aviator, a sheriff volunteer, in Civil Air Patrol search and rescue, and in American Red Cross disaster relief have helped me to accomplish this.
I share with my Civil Air Patrol Cadets that if they could teach me to land on an aircraft carrier, then they can teach anyone — I had seven strikes against me before I started! Set life goals early on, exercise perseverance, rely on the networking of family, friends, and mentors, and have faith that God will enable you to accomplish your goals. I have accomplished goals as a veteran and as a volunteer that I never would have dreamed possible.
Not only did my dad serve our country, but he provided the foundation and security for my family growing up. My dad was very active in my childhood and taught me the importance of hard work and perseverance, networking, and faith; the top three character qualities he regularly emphasized. My dad actively shared his faith with strangers and started many conversations that encouraged people to open up about themselves. He still is a leader in the community despite having retired some years ago, serving with the Red Cross and helping with hurricane relief, as well as assisting with Search and Rescue training and helping with community events. My dad helped me develop the character I have today, which has helped me achieve success in small business, security in my own faith, and confidence in raising my own family. My dad is a blessing to all who know him.
My dad will always have friends everywhere he goes thanks to his natural leadership and love for people. I appreciate that my kids can learn from my dad’s wisdom and also have the opportunity to enjoy the freedoms we have in America, thanks to our veterans!
We’d love to hear your stories! Share a story you heard from a veteran in your life in the comments below!
Katie is a writer and influencer based in beautiful Coeur d’Alane, Idaho. She enjoys DIY projects, photography, decorating and going on family adventures. She feels blessed to be a wife, a stay-at-home mom to three kids and a Pacific Northwest lifestyle blogger.