Jennifer King felt the need to go and visit with her father at his gravesite last Tuesday morning.
She got up early, got ready and then drove from her residence in Milledgeville to the Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
Her father, John C. King, was a sergeant in the U.S. Army who fought in Vietnam. King died three years ago at age 63 from a massive heart attack.
It was a day that Jennifer King will always remember.
As miniature American flags were being placed at the gravesites of other fallen heroes, like John C. King, Jennifer asked Linda Lavender, director of the Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery, for one of them.
Moments later, Jennifer poked the flag into the ground in front of her dad’s gravesite, where it began flying in the morning breeze.
“Sometimes you still need to sit and talk to your dad, even if he’s now in heaven,” said Jennifer. “I was always a dad girl.”
She is among three daughters born and raised by John and Connie King of Milledgeville.
Jennifer has two sisters, Christina Hill, and Jacqueline Palazola, an identical twin sister who is a master sergeant in the Air Force.
“He always wanted a boy, but he got three daughters instead,” Jennifer said.
Nevertheless, she and her dad shared a special bond.
“The military was his calling,” Jennifer said of her dad.
Right after her dad graduated high school, he joined the Army and was a soldier for about 10 years, according to Jennifer.
After leaving the Army John C. King joined the Georgia Army National Guard.
“Once my identical twin sister joined the Air Force straight out of high school and was sent to Iraq, my dad said, ‘There’s no way my daughter is going to be there in the war zone by herself.’”
He decided to take matters into his own hands, Jennifer recalled.
“So, he went and had all of this testing done, got his body in shape and went over to Iraq as an American contractor,” Jennifer said with a big smile. “He was in Iraq at the same time she was because he didn’t want his daughter over there without him. Isn’t that crazy?”
After returning home from Iraq, John C. King landed a job as a truck driver.
“They gave him this veterans’ truck and it was a beautiful thing,” Jennifer said. “He volunteered at the local hospice facility. He’d go inside and talk with veterans.”
Jennifer described her dad as a man “who bled red, white and blue.”
She said holidays such as Memorial Day and July Fourth have always been important days in the lives of her family.
“It overwhelms me with so much gratitude to have so many people pay tribute to my dad and so many others during this time of the year,” Jennifer said. “I am truly grateful.”