People in military service sacrifice a lot for our country, and their mutual sacrifice creates a lifelong bond among them.
At last year's Veterans Christmas Party, conversations flowed about World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.
In conjunction with Veterans Day, several activities honored those who served.
One local army veteran, Ronald Donaldson, grew up in Davidson and is now a proud owner of a new Habitat for Humanity home in Poole Place.
After serving two years in the Army, the newly promoted sergeant planned to make a career of the military. But when he returned home for leave at Christmas to find his parents sick, he decided to remain to help with their 12 family members.
He stayed in Davidson, living in a small rental home. But when he was repairing the upper windows, he noticed the roof had no insulation. So he decided to apply for a Habitat home.
On Jan. 7, he was accepted into the program.
Habitat homeowners are required to work on their home sites to be eligible for the program.
But Donaldson is 68 and has a physical disability, so he puts in his required “sweat equity” at the Habitat ReStore instead of on the housing site.
His work there has set a record for Our Towns Habitat for Humanity: He has worked a record 1,300 hours.
He has become the “love of everyone who works or volunteers at the ReStore and in the office,” said Christine Boone, director of resource development for Our Towns Habitat.
On Sept. 27, Donaldson's daughter Jessica surprised him at the dedication of his abode. Jessica is married to a career soldier, and they live in Georgia.
Donaldson loves this community and hopes to have Jessica and her family visit before they move to Hawaii in January for another military assignment.
Donaldson was highlighted at the Dream Breakfast fundraiser Wednesday. He is president of the family support committee for the 148 Habitat homeowners in Davidson, Cornelius, Huntersville and Mooresville.
He is working to get the CATS bus to turn around at the entrance of Poole Place so residents can safely travel to work, grocery stores, movies and other destinations. Residents currently walk that dangerous and windy road to the bus stop at Bailey and Washam Potts roads.
Jack Hart began volunteering with Donaldson at the ReStore after his wife died. At the breakfast, he described how wonderful this organization has been.
“I needed a job and friends, and Habitat helped me,” Hart said. Ron needed a house, and they helped him!”
If you'd like to attend a Dream Luncheon on Friday for other Habitat homeowners, contact Boone at 704-896-8957, ext. 1105, or visit www.ourtownshabitat.org.
Robert Hull is a Marine Corps veteran who proudly wears a black “Vietnam Vet” baseball cap every day.
Growing up near Charlotte, Hull enlisted in June 1967 and served for two years on the front line.
Returning to a country torn apart by generational, political and theological differences was disturbing, he said, and he still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Confusion with his paperwork and the death of his commanding officer led to Hull being lost in the system after he returned home.
But with the help of various groups, Hull, now 60, is receiving military assistance, is happily married and said he finally feels settled and valued.
President Bush flew a flag in his honor on Sept. 18 and gave it to U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.
He encouraged everyone to reach out to others like him. “Help Vietnam Vets because they are still treated poorly,” he said.
Recently, I flew home with my father on a US Airways flight to Indiana. He was wearing his retired Army cap as gate agents wheeled him toward his coach seat.
As he entered first class, a young man got up and instructed my dad to take his large leather seat.
When we landed in Indiana, my dad thanked him and asked why he had acted so generously.
“I have my reasons, but your hat made me want to honor you, sir,” he responded, and he was gone.