My dad's parents were almost a decade older, however, and his dad actually did serve in the Marines while the World War II was still ongoing. Still, I never much thought of him as a veteran. First, he rarely mentioned his time in the war and whenever he or anyone else ever talked about it they usually described him as having spent the entire time in the Philippines peeling potatoes. He had run off at a younger age to Atlanta to join the military, but his dad chased him down and dragged him back home to wait until he was drafted. By then, the war was winding down and Granddaddy didn't get deployed until many of the Pacific islands had been largely cleared of the Japanese. He did occasionally tell the story of his first day at boot camp. He'd never learned to swim and he said during physicals the sergeant threw him in the pool, he passed out, sank to the bottom, and when he woke up he was in uniform on a ship without a speck of land in sight.
Of course it doesn't mean that I don't respect what veterans have done to keep the rest of us safe just because my granddad wasn't what we typically think of veterans. K's grandfather had a much more distinguished military career than any of my grandparents. He was injured twice by shrapnel, once in the leg and once in the face. One of those times came shortly after he stormed the beach on D-Day. I never would have thought it only knowing him in his old age as I did, but the guy had apparently been a badass during the war. Guys like him are the reason for this holiday. Even now when I don't exactly think many of the wars after World War II were fully justified, I fully respect the risks and sacrifices veterans make.
Of course, it hasn't always just been the soldiers who worked so the rest of us could stay safe. My dad's mother actually was a Rosie the Riveter. The only way that descriptor could have fit more literally was if she had actually been named Rosie. She spent the war putting rivets into bombers at a factory in Atlanta, so when I tip back a beer in honor of the veterans today I'll have her in mind as well as people like K's grandfather and, yes, even mine.