He earned an Alabama football scholarship. Then Pearl Harbor happened.

Under their formal intentions, Memorial Day is to honor those who died in US military service, while Veterans Day in November is set aside to recognize all US military veterans, survivors included. Having never served, it wouldn’t be my place to bend those definitions.

It was John Starling Staples’ place.

Staples, who was laid to rest in 2009 in Tallahassee, Fla., Earned a Bronze Star as the leader of the Second Bomb Disposal Company, Fleet Marine Force, in the WWII Battle of Iwo Jima. He’d been home from the war for 25 years before Memorial Day was even declared a federal holiday, so he had the right to observe it how he saw fit: with a broader definition.

“My dad felt Memorial Day should be more than memorializing those that lost their lives. He’d say there were scores of others that lost something else. An arm or a leg or their mind, ”Staples’ son, John F. Staples of Northport, told me last week. “He felt Memorial Day was about those that lost other things as well. And he didn’t think it was about him, because he’d always say, ‘I didn’t lose anything. I came back how I went. ‘”

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