“He’s a hero. He’s a corporal of Marines.”
The man speaking was a young dad, holding a daughter about age two in his arms. He was describing my son to his toddler.
It was Father’s Day, early afternoon at Bob Evans in Ashtabula, waiting for a dinner table. It could have been any restaurant at any town in America.
Grant Johnson with his grandson, Corporal Tyler J Kerezy
Our son Tyler, wearing his Marine Corps uniform, had come to Ashtabula to spend Father’s Day with his grandfather. He was in uniform for church service and dinner, and on a few occasions I almost lost it, emotionally, as I witnessed the torrent of support for him. More than 20 people shook his hand, thanked him for his service, and expressed a lot of admiration and gratitude for his dedication. The restaurant also comped his dinner.
Tyler is the last person who’d call himself a hero. He’s just returned to the Cleveland area from an eight-month overseas deployment. He’d be the first to tell you the real heroes are the ones who’ve died since 9-11, the nearly 5,300 American servicemen and women who have sacrificed their lives on the altar of freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan.
For me, it was a powerful reminder of how far America has come. I was 15 when the Vietnam War ended, and service men who returned home from that war weren’t held in high acclaim. It’s gratifying to know that we have a very appreciative nation today.
The writer, Corporal Tyler J Kerezy, and Grant Johnson (L to R)
I am well pleased with my son. He made a great decision to join the Marines, and he’s become a fine young man during his time in the Corps. Sunday was the first Father’s Day we’ve had with Tyler since 2010. Over the past year, with his training and the deployment, we missed our son terribly.
Every father is thrilled with how he is treated on Father’s Day. Mine was stellar, even before getting to Bob Evans. The reaction of the people at Ashtabula First United Methodist Church and Bob Evans to my son made me proud to be a father, an American, and the dad of a Marine.
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This is shaping up to be a super summer for six present and former students. One of my newswriting students from Kent State, Marine Corps veteran DEVON MCCARTY, has an ongoing freelance writing position, working for The Independent in Massillon. Another, HANNAH ARMENTA has a full-time assignment as a digital editor for Ohio.com and The Beacon Journal. A third, PAMELA MAROTTA, is interning in the news room at WKYC Channel 3.
Cuyahoga Community College student CAITLIN BORON is an intern at Clear Channel Radio in Cleveland, primarily with WTAM radio. Another Tri-C student, ROBBY FENBERS, has an internship with Building Hope in the City.
Finally, I have a “part time” gig as coach of Revere High School’s debate and speech team. My senior speech captain, ALEXIS ESPINAL, landed an internship with Summa Health System in Akron this summer. Good luck to all of these interns this summer.
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Speaking of Robby, he is one of three present/former students who earned awards from the Press Club of Cleveland earlier this month. Below is a link to a web site with details. Congratulations to Robby and to BRONSON PESHLAKAI, Tri-C’s stellar Voice editor, who lead a team that won no less than FIVE Press Club honors.
A former student of mine, JASON BRILL, is now an associate editor with Great Lakes Publishing’s Inside Business magazine. He won two Press Club awards for his writing. It’s gratifying to have so many present and former students succeeding in college, in internships, and careers. They are tomorrow’s exemplary journalists.