I recently had the opportunity to sit down and speak with Heather Zuniga about being chosen to be the grand marshal for the Ripley Veterans Day Parade.

Heather is a retired United States Army nurse practitioner who spent many years in the military caring for service men and women and their families. Heather served in the US as well as overseas in Iraq.

She spent time in every aspect of nursing, including labor and delivery, emergency services, and the operating room before completing her last several years as a nurse practitioner.

In the little over a year I have been working at the paper, I have spoken with many individuals and I must say, speaking with her was one of the most memorable interviews I have done. One that will leave an impression on me for many years to come.

Heather told me her favorite part of being in the military was the people. She enjoyed meeting and working with the soldiers. She liked being in the field and caring for them. It was something she truly treasured.

As she told me about her military life, she never once complained or said anything about not wanting to get up and go to work, or not enjoying what she was doing, or about having to do her job. Heather simply said, “she was doing what she wanted to do.” She felt it was her “privilege” to do what she was doing.

That really stood out to me in our conversation. How many of us have woken up to the loud, annoying, “BEEP, BEEP, BEEP” of that morning alarm and rolled over and slapped the snooze button a time or two, not wanting to get up and start the day? How many of us have said, “I can’t do this another day?” How about, “I hate getting out of bed?” I am ashamed to admit it, but I have, on numerous occasions. Not for this job of course, but for many other past jobs.

I would have never considered some of my past experiences a privilege, when in fact, I should have. But, here I was, sitting with this woman who had seen things I can’t even begin to imagine, and yet she felt it a privilege because it was something she wanted to do.

One thing Heather said about being chosen as the grand marshal was that she was “humbled.” Wow, this lady who spent so much of her time caring for others, who devoted her life to caring for the lives of those who fight for us and our country, who herself has been in harms way, was humbled to be receiving acknowledgement that she has more than earned. I should be the one humbled by her. I am humbled by her.

Heather, thank you for your service (even though I know you feel awkward hearing that), thank you for being a proud solider, mother, and hero. I will always think of you and your military time as a Hero who took care of Heroes. God bless you, God bless your family, and enjoy your well-deserved moment as grand marshal for the Ripley Veterans Day Parade.