For John Anderson, Memorial Day is much more than a long weekend and a family barbecue. It’s a solemn day of remembrance for those who served and sacrificed for our country.

John joined the military in 1974 after graduating from high school and dedicated 24 years of his life to serving his country including three years as a Drill Sergeant at Fort Dix in New Jersey.

Back to His Roots

A few years before retiring, he and his wife bought a farm in Watertown, New York. This allowed John, who grew up on a dairy farm in California, to put the lessons he delivered during his days as a Drill Sergeant to work.

“When you’re in the farming business, you need to be a self-starter and be disciplined,” he says. “In the military that’s the way it was. You don’t put off things. You have that discipline instilled in the military — to be a take charge person who accomplishes things.”

Today, John is still that take-charge person in the dairy farming community of Jefferson County. He cares for Milking Shorthorn dairy cows and is working to prepare the next generation of dairy farmers.

Paying it Forward

John found a way to combine two of his passions — the military and dairy farming — in a way that helps his fellow veterans.

By serving as a mentor and resource for other veterans, John encourages them to get involved in farming. Recently, he hosted a dozen veterans on his farm and talked to them about how he got started in the business and how to run a successful farm. He doesn’t sugar-coat it. He talks about all the hard work and discipline needed to succeed, but he also talks about a family-centered business that is extremely rewarding.

“Being retired military, I like to encourage people from the military to get into farming,” John says. “It’s a good way of life and a good way to raise their children.”

Remembering Those Who Served

As Memorial Day approaches, John reflected on what the day means to him. He talked about his military experiences, the service of his two sons in Iraq and the ultimate sacrifice made by his nephew in Iraq.

“Memorial Day means remembering all of the people who gave us our freedoms today, he says. “We did a small part to keep our freedom for our children, neighbors and the rest of the country.”

On this Memorial Day, we thank John, his sons, his nephew and all veterans who answered the call and served their country.