A tribute to my hero

Posted by on Mar 20, 2012 in Community involvement | 11 Comments

Last year, I experienced a day that I will always remember.  As his guardian, I traveled with my Uncle Jack Wade and 97 other WWII veterans selected by Honor Flight Birmingham to visit the National WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C.

As I reflect back on that day and what made it so special, I think of how I witnessed people of all ages and social status honor my uncle and the other veterans for their service to our country.  Our country would not be what it is today had it not been for the sacrifices of these men and others like them.

Our veterans were greeted at the WWII Memorial in Washington D.C. by U.S. Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions.

After spending the day in Washington, they returned to the Birmingham Airport with a heroes’ welcome. There were hundreds of cheering, flag waving people awaiting us as we exited the terminal.  I don’t think there was a dry eye in the airport.

My uncle has been my hero for a long time, because he was like a father to Joe and me when he didn’t have to be.  In many ways, he is a quiet, simple man but yet a tremendous role model in my life.  I don’t think I have ever seen him mad or say a curse word.  He has taught me, among other things, what a loving father should be like and how a husband should treat his wife.

I found out on the flight that my uncle had not flown since he returned home from WWII about 67 years ago. I kept telling him that security guards and random strangers in the airport are not normally that nice to people traveling! They are that nice to veterans though.

In a day and time when our heroes are sports stars and celebrities, I was able to tell my uncle, a veteran, that he was my hero.  What a blessing that was in my life!

Jim Meads, P.E., is the President and CEO at Sain Associates, Inc., headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, with offices in Cullman, Alabama, Pulaski, Tennessee and Mandeville, Louisiana. Sain is a site engineering, traffic/transportation engineering and planning and land surveying firm with experience in more than thirty states.


  1. Ross
    March 20, 2012

    great post. What an admirable legacy Mr. Wade built for his country and family.

  2. Howard Lucas
    March 20, 2012

    Jim, thanks for your inspiring email concerning your uncle Jack and his Honor Flight trip. I would loved to have seen him, and you, on that journey. I was honored to make the flight and our son, David, whom you know was my Guardian. The trip was not only inspiring, encouraging-it was a blessing!! David told you my brother was killed in the Anzio battles and I dedicated the trip to him in my heart. Your Uncle Jack surely had many memories which boosted and inspired him as did you. So many of the WW11 vets are departing this life but they will not be forgotten and the Honor Flight certainly provided much memory for America to digest. Thanks again for honoring Uncle Jack!!!

  3. Mike
    March 21, 2012

    That’s a great story! Veteans, like your uncle, not only fought for our freedom, but also helped to mold two great men. There’s no telling how many others he positively impacted. We need more Americans like him in this world.

  4. Linda Guin
    April 24, 2012

    Thank you for sharing your story with us Jim and please thank your Uncle for keeping us free! God bless him & all veterans! Linda

    • Randy Braden
      April 24, 2012

      Thank you Jim for sharing this. There are times in our life when we share a time with someone special to us,ie; weddings, funerals, hospital visits, sharing a visit or fishing with a close friend when they thank you for being there and I tell them as I’m sure you either felt this way or told your Uncle as he thanked you for sharing this special time with him , ” I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world than right here with you at this time”. What a great moment in time to share with a close relative. Recognizing heroes like your uncle is something we don’t do enough.

  5. Tim Lucy
    April 24, 2012

    Joe, that is so great that you got to make that trip! I think it is great that you have honored your father in such a meaningful way. Good for you!

  6. David Sher
    April 24, 2012

    What a nice story!

  7. Ed Terrell
    April 25, 2012

    Jim – very inspiring. I was born on 6-5-44, the day before D-Day so I am a big WWII buff. We lose 100 veterans per day from the Greatest Generation. Those guys and gals put everything on the line for us and I will always be grateful and honor those folks. Many thanks for sending me the notice.- Ed Terrell

  8. Al Mathis
    April 26, 2012

    Jim – God has blessed America – your story helped me to reflect on the undeserved privileges I walk in because of the tremendous sacrifices of many who came before me. I have been to the WWII memorial and spent some time talking to a WWII vet – I was blown away with great stories that inspired me to raise the bar in my own life. God continue to bless America by raising up more like you did, for such a time as this.
    Al Mathis

  9. Why Fishing is Good for the Soul |
    October 31, 2012

    […] since I was a child. Jim and I had a difficult childhood, but our release was when we fished with our uncle every Saturday.  My aunt always said she was a widow on […]

  10. Honoring our Veterans |
    November 12, 2012

    […] quite tell the story. He was like a father to Jim and Joe in place of an absentee father. (See “A tribute to my hero” for more.) Mr. Wade is a U.S. Navy Veteran of WWII and was on a U.S. Navy ship in the Pacific […]


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