As far back as I can remember – I have been extremely patriotic. I remember being a little child and staying up all hours of the night watching the Olympics – even watching the “sports” which most people do not even consider sports and have little, to no, interest in. I would even watch the replays of the track races and basketball games and trash talk the TV. I remember just sitting there with pride, thinking, “Nice try Russia, or China, or Canada – but we (America) just beat you. Sorry about your loss…but not really!” I then remember standing up off the couch every time the National Anthem was played, hand over heart, and welling up with pride and emotion as our country’s flag was raised. On a few rare occasions, the USA has even managed to sweep the entire competition and then all three of the people on the podium are wearing the red, white and blue. Moments like that are unforgettable and magic to me.
So, when we started The Torch we knew there were certain groups of people we wanted to help and honor; children, teens, elderly, our public servants (Police and Firemen) and our military. Our military is one of the most under-appreciated, under-served populations and we want to do our small part to help bring attention, recognition, and support to the brave men and women who served our country.
Our military are the very reason I could, and do, watch the Olympics with pride. Our military is the reason we can live day to day, free from fears and rest peacefully at night, knowing there are countless people out on the battlegrounds – abroad and locally – who are defending and protecting us. Our military is no longer drafted, is not ordered to enlist, and yet day after day, people from all over America step up to the plate and sign up to be a part of the greatest military force there is. Day in and day out our military lace up their boots, say good bye to loved ones, and fight for millions of faces they have never even met. Our military are point blank- heroes.
So it seems only fitting that The Torch starts our weekly tributes with one closest to home – my younger brother, James Ruddle. James, or more commonly referred to as JR, recently ended his four years in the Marine Corp. JR is not one of the people who enlists because they have no other options. JR is among the brightest people I know and has intelligence and wit that don’t stop. He could easily have gone to college right out of high school, gotten an apprenticeship, or done other things with his life, yet he took his talents and intellect and joined the Marines. During his time in the Corp he traveled to numerous countries: Afghanistan, Japan, The Philippines, Australia and South Korea. If you are looking for an ideal Marine, you need look no further than JR. Always quick to do work beyond his call of duty, looking out for his fellow Marines and even the people he served – regardless of language or cultural barrier, all with a humble spirit and sense of humor to help ease homesickness and sometimes overcome terrible jobs and living arrangements.
JR quickly rose through the ranks in the Corp and ended his time as a Sergeant. JR is currently home in Michigan with his wife Melissa. He is now attending Baker College and plans on a career in the computer related field. When he was a newborn, I vividly remember sitting beside his crib when he was sleeping and making sure he was breathing okay. I would interrupt my playing at random times throughout the day and run in and check on my baby brother. Today, my baby brother, is a not just a grown man, but the kind of man you want your sons to become and your daughters to marry. He is a kind, gentle soul, who always goes out of his way for others. His spirit and laughter are contagious. He is a gentleman of old who opens doors for women, says please and thank you, loves his family and God. JR is the kind of guy who does not want any recognition or to be in the spotlight, which makes what he does impress me even more. JR is a son; husband, brother, uncle, Marine Veteran, student, athlete, American hero, and one of my personal heroes.
Today The Torch honors JR. We ask you to join us as we thank him for his service to our country and to lift him up in prayer. God Bless America!