As Father's Day rolled around this year, I was reminded of how hard it can be to experience a holiday without our loved ones who have passed.

For some, it's Thanksgiving or Christmas, when those lucky enough to be surrounded by family are sustained for another year, and others spend joyless days alone - dealing with pain or memories others can't possibly fathom.

For the most part, I'm one of the lucky ones, frequently surrounded by family and friends on such occasions. But for the past nine years, Father's Day has been the one holiday I struggle with, because I approach it ... well, fatherless.

As the day set aside for honoring our fathers creeps up on me, I spend some time lost in reflection. And as I ponder putting some thoughts down on paper about my "real" dad, James LeRoy Greiner, aka "Goose" (1940-2004), I would be remiss if I didn't also acknowledge my step-father, Frank Peter Merkle, Jr., aka "Pete" (1927-1996), as well.

Although the two men couldn't have been more different, they shared at least three things in common: They both served their country, loved my mother and left a lasting impression on my brother and me.

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