I think the last time my brother, Jeff, and our parents were all together for Thanksgiving was back in 1998. I was in my senior year at the University of North Texas, finishing up my marketing degree; and my brother had just enlisted to become a U.S. Marine and would soon be headed out to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego for Boot Camp. Jeff had always wanted to be in the military. Growing up, he would watch war movies, read history books, talk with veterans and play games that tested skill and strategy. He’s always been one to lift and help others, defend those who were being mistreated or picked on, and do whatever he could to better our hometown and nation. Our family was understandably proud of him when he became an Eagle Scout and also when he became a U.S. Marine.
Now, all these years later, Jeff has served our country on numerous tours of combat duty and has experienced circumstances similar to the movie, Saving Private Ryan. He’s faced enemy fire, been ambushed, lost friends and men who were like brothers to him. He’s been awarded the Bronze Medal with Valor and been named in People Magazine, along with the bomb-sniffing dog, Max, who saved his life and that of many other soldiers; and who now is retired and lives with my parents, as a part of our family, as he undergoes chemotherapy to treat his canine cancer. Jeff helped coordinate the Marine’s relief efforts in Nepal after the earthquake and worked tirelessly with military personnel in Thailand, Guam, South Korea, and the Philippines, helping them train to respond to similar disasters or attacks. For all these years, he’s been a hero to me and my family, as we prayed from afar for his safety. And, for all these years, we’ve been apart from him and his family, with his wife, Rachel, and two kids, Thomas and Harper.
All of that just changed, though! Jeff and his family have now moved here and are getting settled in. Jeff has transitioned into the Reserves, so he can focus more on family. My next goal will be to help him find a job, but I’m excited that after a decade of my wife and I promoting our city, Jeff and his family are now here and wanting to get involved and make a difference. I feel like I’m preaching at this point, but I LOVE our city, I LOVE our people, and I BELIEVE in our future. I’m working every day to promote the GOOD, not just to our citizens and others outside our city, but to my own family, as well. The more relationships we build, the more catalysts we bring to our city, the more GOOD that can happen. So, if you meet my brother, please welcome him and his family to our city. Welcome those who move here with open arms, like you welcomed me and my family over a decade ago, and they’ll become our strongest ambassadors to further grow and develop the Mid-South!