8News Anchor John Rogers reflects on his grandfather on Memorial Day

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WRIC) — Right now, there are about one and a half million men and women serving in the United States military. 

Whether they’re at home or abroad, they are all giving up so much to protect the freedoms we all share. It’s very important to remember the brave service members who have gone before us. 

In the pantheon of heroes at the Arlington National Cemetery, many of our country’s finest are eternally at rest. 

Some are known the world over, some have been out of this world, others are not known at all. 

And then there are those who may not be famous, but their legacies live on in their children, and their children’s children. 

There is something that all of these men and women have in common — they left their mark on history by protecting the country and the world. 

Many did it voluntarily, others were called upon to help, like my grandfather, John Rogers. 

In the early 1950s, America was thrust into a new global conflict — the Korean War. 

My father, John F. Rogers, said that at the time, my grandpa was taking college classes in New York and had big goals for his life. 

“He liked sports, so he played baseball, so he was thinking of maybe doing pro ball,” Rogers said.

But he had to cast his dreams aside, when he was drafted into the US military. 

He joined the Air Force, then a fledgling branch and was a part of the early days of our foray into space. 

“He was a pioneer,” Rogers said. “He was part of, at that time, a secret program where they had these weather satellites that gave some detailed weather information for the military.” 

As the country became embroiled in the Vietnam War, this information was crucial for our troops fighting in the jungles of Asia. 

Even though my Grandpa’s work involved outer space, he was still in the thick of battle here on earth. His unit in Southeast Asia was regularly attacked by enemy forces. 

“[The Viet Cong] knew about that base … so they would go ahead and launch mortars and attacks,” said Rogers. “He actually had some eye and ear damage from some of the attacks and so forth.” 

My grandfather was one of the lucky ones who made it out alive and spent the rest of his days with his family. Now he’s spending the rest of eternity with his military family at the Arlington National Cemetery. It’s a home that’s growing by the day.

The cemetery serves as a reminder on this Memorial Day that our freedoms come at a price many of us could never fathom to pay. 

“There’s people out there all over the world, men and women in the military that are sacrificing their families, sacrificing their lives and literally keeping this country free,” said Rogers. 

They are platoon leaders, generals, and brothers and sisters in arms. But we can’t forget they’re sons, daughters, parents and grandparents. 

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