Veterans Day Families Reflect On Members That Serve


Courtesy of Madison Moore

Standing with his family, Sean Moore, just arrived home from his deployment in Afghanistan.

Celebrated nationally every year, on Nov. 11, Veterans Day is a day set aside to honor all veterans who have served or are currently serving in the uniformed services. 

Although not everyone may know a veteran personally, chances are they have met someone with family or friends in the military. 

“My brother, Christian, is in the Army,” junior Carissa Dawson said. “He’s active duty Army. He went to basic on Feb. 2, 2021. He showed interest in it all through his high school career, and he actually wanted to join his senior year. But, my mom wouldn’t sign off.”

On July 25, 2021, Carissa Dawson visits her brother Christian in Georgia at Fort Benning. (Courtesy of Carissa Dawson)

Although Christian initially wanted to join the Army, life took him in a different direction.

“So, he had actually been convinced not to go into it, and he had signed with a college. He had a scholarship to run with IUK. He was going to be a teacher, but a lot of stuff happened personally with my entire family. So, Christian didn’t actually end up going to college. He ended up moving to Indianapolis with my dad, and he was working in a factory for a little bit. He then found some opportunity, whether that was from him looking it up or finding an opportunity somewhere in Indy, that he stumbled across. But, he got his interest sparked again.”

Once Christian had decided he truly wanted to join the Army, he had to tell his sister and made sure to reassure her in the process. 

“He came home one day to pick me up to take me to my dad’s house, and he was like ‘Hey I think I’m going to join the Army,’” Dawson said. “I said ‘What?’ and he said it was okay because he wasn’t going to fight or anything. He then points and makes me watch this whole educational video about how he would just be a scout and would scout everything out and would tell people if it was safe to go. He didn’t end up doing that. He actually does fight now and was deployed to Poland last year at the end of the year.”

Another person that is familiar with having family in the military is science teacher Laura Karnafel. 

“My grandfather fought in World War 2 in Italy, and my uncle fought in Vietnam,” Karnafel said. “My stepson Alex is in the Air Force. My son Matt  served six and a half years in the Marines, and my son Mickey is currently in the Marine Reserves, awaiting active status.”

Having close ties to people in the military can cause great appreciation for all veterans and military families. 

“Having my sons in the military makes me very proud of their willingness to serve their country. Knowing my grandfather and all four of his brothers all fought in WW2, as well as my uncle in Vietnam, gives me a real respect for our veterans and a special place in my heart for those who have lost loved ones in service to our country.”

Another person that has grown a love and appreciation for service men and women is special education teacher Aubrey Aubrey.

Elizabeth Evan’s sister joined the Army in 2014. (Courtesy of Elizabeth Evans)

“My late husband Jeremy Aubrey served 14 years between the Army and the Army National Guards, and my stepson is currently serving the Army as a Military Police Officer,” Aubrey Aubrey said. “He enlisted right out of high school and has proudly served our country for the past six years. In general, knowing that Jeremy and his kiddo have or are currently serving has given our family an overall love for our country and other service men and women. We love to honor those who are serving and who have served.”

Having family in the military can be really hard when they are away.

“Before Christian left, my eighth-grade year and his senior year, we got really close,” Dawson said. “I know it’s kind of corny, but he really was my best friend. We lived together, and we were stuck inside due to COVID. He had to be my best friend, and neither of us had any friends. So, he really was my best friend, and we would just be hanging out all the time. As I said, we went through a lot of family stuff right around there, and so it was really nice because we were going through all the same stuff. It was really easy to lean on each other when we needed to. He was always there because he had to be and then all of a sudden he just left for seven months.”

While being away, Dawson explains that her family barely had any contact with her brother.

“We couldn’t talk to him, and then every time he would call, of course, he would call his wife, so I barely got to talk to him,” Dawson said. “When he was home, it was just like, that’s my family. That’s the person that’s always going to be there. When he is away, at first, it was really, really hard, but it got easier as it went on because you get used to it.”

When Dawson’s brother was away for basic training, this was a particularly rough time for communication.

After joining the National Guard, Riley Moore is deployed to Kuwait. Here he stands with his family as they send him off. (Courtesy of Madison Moore)

“When he was away for basic, it was different than now just because he’s on a base,” Dawson said. “Now, it’s not as big a deal because I can call him whenever I want, and we visit him sometimes. It did really suck when he was gone for basic because he couldn’t have his phone, and when he was deployed, we only got to talk to him three times.”

Junior Madison Moore currently has a brother in the National Guard on active duty, and her dad is a retired veteran who was in the National Guard for 20 years. Although she was young when her father was deployed, she recalls it being challenging for her. 

“When my dad was deployed, the whole family dynamic changed,” Moore said. “When I was younger, I didn’t start talking until I was 3, and I think some of that is because my dad left when I was 2. I was attached to his hip before then, so seeing him leave affected me tremendously. It’s difficult to adjust, but eventually, you get into the groove of things. It’s also hard knowing that they may not come back home. My dad deployed four times, and my brother has deployed once.”

Before Moore’s dad retired, he was deployed one last time. This deployment was especially hard on her family. 

“With my dad’s last deployment, we weren’t allowed to get out of our car,” Moore said. “So we had to say our goodbyes before we even got onto the base. Me and my mom were both sobbing, and the people there gave me a bear. That was the hardest deployment out of all of them.”

Although times like this are difficult, getting to see their loved ones again after they are gone is a special experience.

“When I, my husband, and youngest two children flew to San Diego for my son Matthew’s graduation from Marine boot camp, it was such an incredibly emotional experience,” Karnafel said. “The pride and love were just bursting out of us. We all were overwhelmed with the joy of finally hugging our son after 13 weeks of no communication, other than handwritten letters. These days, that is pretty much unheard of. The experience inspired my youngest son to join the Marines.”

Having multiple sons in the military can be worrisome at times.

“When my sons are deployed, I rely on my faith to keep me from too much worry,” Karnafel said. “I know they are where they chose to be. Of course, when they are home, there is less reason to worry.”

Junior Elizabeth Evans currently has a sister in the Army and agrees that at times it can be stressful. 

“When they’re gone, it’s a little stressful because we never know when we will hear from them again,” Evans said. “It hasn’t really affected our family with her being out, but it does cause a lot of stress. My sister is the only person we’ve had to deal with that with.”

Although veterans are celebrated in several ways throughout the year, Veterans Day is a day dedicated to honoring those individuals and educating other people about all they have done. 

Made for Jeremy Aubrey after his passing, this custom-made memorial contains the flag that was folded for him during his funeral. This flag was then presented to his wife by his own son. There is also a custom-made bible and the bible he received in the Army. (Jakson Combs)

“I love that we celebrate Veterans Day and feel it is so important for the younger generation to think about the sacrifices other people have made so they can have all their freedoms, even if they are ambivalent about it and don’t appreciate it the way they should,” Karnafel said.

Celebrating Veterans Day is important because it recognizes the struggles veterans and their families face.

“Do I think it’s important to celebrate? More than anything,” Aubrey said. “These men and women sacrifice their own life, the grief and sadness of their loved ones, and their own mental health to continue our fight for freedom. They spend years away from their wives and kids to make sure you get to come home to yours. We owe them a lot of honor. We owe them more than one day. I will forever be grateful to my husband and son and all the other men and women who sacrifice their own to protect mine.”

While veterans are celebrated during their active service and retirement, they are also honored after passing. 

“Watching and being a part of Jeremy’s full military service after his passing was one of the most honoring and humbling experiences I’ve ever had,” Aubrey said. “His active duty son presented me with the flag and had to be

Lying on the back of Jeremy Aubrey’s obituary is a bullet casing. The casing is from his funeral during the 21-gun salute. This is a tradition for passed veterans where seven servicemen stand in a line and shoot three times. (Jakson Combs)

completely emotionless. Seeing his dedication to his country by presenting his dad’s flag to me without a tear in his eye just spoke a million words to me. I can’t even explain how much it taught me about the love and commitment that our servicemen have for our country. My now eight-year-old loves all things Army and desperately wants to follow in his dad and brother’s footsteps.”

Aubrey believes it is important to recognize the lifelong commitment of those who have served.

“I would like to add that although Jeremy did not die serving his country, he did die honoring his country,” Aubrey said. “I spoke of his time in the Army with pride and talked about his army platoon as if they were family. He said many times that the Army saved his life and that he would have made the choice 100 times again. Our country wouldn’t be what we are, no matter how good or bad you feel it is, without these men and women who sacrifice for us. I for one do not have the guts to willingly march into a combat zone so that people I don’t know can have the right to choose their own path. Thank you so much to every veteran. I salute you all.”