For most of my career, I’ve known and respected Grant Heilman, a talented photographer and long-distance business friend. Never in my wildest imagination did I know the "full picture" until reading his obituary. He died at 94 this winter—I would have guessed he was 15 years younger—as a stealth decorated World War II veteran. He was an artistic, pastoral person who I would have never suspected was a decorated counterintelligence operative! I’m humbled by his contributions—and dismayed that I never knew it and thanked him for his courageous service.
I wish I had probed Grant about "his story" while he was living. That regret rattling around in my head motivated this invitation. Please join me in "Heroes in Our Midst," an informal effort to seek out folks in farm country, who like Grant, had colorful military experiences that have remained largely unknown to friends, neighbors and often, family. Together, we will not only identify those former soldiers, but also honor them for their service by sharing their stories while they are living.
Knowing that a disproportionate number of those in the military hail from rural areas, all of us in farm country likely have neighbors or perhaps loved ones who served with valor. If you know someone to honor, let me know.
Submit a photo and overview of his or her military career and we’ll include them in a future Farm Journal feature that pays tribute to the sacrifices and service they made on behalf of all of us. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
or send a letter to Farm Journal Heroes, P.O. Box 958, Mexico, MO 65265.
Let’s do this while we still have time.