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A Proud and Patriotic Mother & Daughter

May 23, 2018

This Memorial Day, our Baby and Shoe Room associate Sara will honor a veteran close to her heart—her father, Joe Stephano. This will be her first Memorial Day without him. Joe was a member of the US Army Air Corps during World War II (before we had a separate Air Force). 

Sara shared this picture of a young Joe Stephano in uniform: 

Joe's service to his country didn't end with him. Before passing from this world, he had the very special honor of seeing two of his grandsons—Sara's children—become officers in the US Air Force; one is a 2nd Lieutenant and the other is now a Captain. Both young men are graduates of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, with the elder brother earning a degree in Astronautical Engineering in 2013, and the younger brother earning a degree in Aeronautical Engineering in 2017. The youngest wore his uniform to his grandfather's funeral. The oldest honored his grandfather in a different way at that time—by welcoming his great grandchild into the world.

Being a Military Mom

Sara's pride in her sons is obvious. Can you imagine a prouder moment than watching your oldest son swear in and commission your youngest son as an officer in the Air Force? It wasn't just their grandfather's influence that led them into service. They were affected by the horrific events of 9/11 and grew up with a desire to protect the country they love.

While Sara suspected her sons would one day join the military, she was surprised by each of their decisions to commit to the Air Force Academy right after high school. It required giving up a lot of the freedoms most college-aged students enjoy. "They had to grow up at the age of eighteen," Sara explains. "But they received a tremendous education."

She notes the strong bond between military parents. "We all understand that at anytime, anything can happen to our children, but we know we have to let them spread their wings and fly."

And now, that's exactly what her sons are doing—literally. Her youngest is now in pilot training, and her oldest flies F-16s; he'll be deployed this summer. How could Sara resist setting this miniature F-16 in our patriotic display window?

Sara's crew becomes more and more of a military family at time passes. Her oldest son married a woman who grew up in a military family, and her youngest recently got engaged to a fellow graduate from the Air Force Academy, also a 2nd Lieutenant. Sara's happy that both of her sons' wives already have an understanding of the commitment and sacrifices that go along with a life in the service.

You know that pride Sara feels for her sons? Well, we feel it toward her, too—for corralling her own fears and encouraging these brave young men to step forward and live the life they're called to. Our appreciation goes out to the whole family, and we salute Joe Stephano as he watches over all of them.

Little Traveler
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