Jay Simpson, a former Champaign Central High School and Purdue basketball standout, writes for The News-Gazette. He can be reached at

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In my family, we look forward to Memorial Day weekend. Not only for the barbecue but mostly for the rare family time we get to spend.

We like to honor all of our veteran family members, deceased and alive. My aunt usually cooks them a meal every day of the weekend to show our appreciation followed by a huge barbecue on the day of.

It’s tradition to celebrate any- and everything over a nice meal. It’s been going on for generations in my family.

I have an elder cousin who’s an active veteran and rarely gets to come home. This year, however, he’s able to make it.

The whole family is excited because it’s been almost five years since we’ve last seen him. He hasn’t eaten any of my aunt’s famous cooking in years, so I know for sure he’s bringing a healthy appetite.

I look forward to picking his brain about his experiences throughout his military journey and also how it’s been during the pandemic.

I had a brief stint in my life where I really wanted to join the military, but it didn’t take long to snap back into reality.

I respect all of the veterans because it takes a really brave soul to go fight for a country. You all represent America in an excellent way, and I can’t thank you enough.

The military wasn’t for me, but who’s to say my children won’t want to go down that road? It’s something that I would totally be OK with.

I’m going to support

whatever they want to do in life, whether it involves sports or not.

My youngest son loves combat and I can definitely see him being a soldier for the United States of America one day if he chooses to.

Jay Simpson writes for The News-Gazette. His column appears Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. He can be reached at

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