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  • Writer's pictureSabrina Evans

A Story that Lies Beyond the Uniform

Updated: Jun 9, 2022

Every year people emphasize the importance of recognizing and honoring the military on a handful of special military holidays (Memorial Day, Veterans Day and the 4th of July). It's easy to tell people the true meaning of Memorial Day but do we actually know what goes on past Memorial Day? What do the family members go through when they have lost a loved one who served in the military? Who were these soldiers when they took off their uniforms? How did they impact their families and the people they have come across? What are their stories?

I believe that for those who have lost their loved one during active duty, Memorial Day for them is everyday. I wanted to honor and paint the picture of a son and his father who served in the United States Navy because sometimes I believe we forget that our fallen soldiers were humans first.

Roy Hiott, the father of James Hiott served in the U.S Navy for 8 years (4 years active duty 4 years reserve). James Hiott shared with me why his father joined the military in the first place.

Remembering a soldier who served in the United States Navy.
Roy Hiott: Served 8 years in the U.S Navy. Before he died he was close he was a member of the American legionnaires. When he passed away, he was wearing their ring.

He mentioned that his dad joined the Navy because he wasn’t very good at school. He got his parents to sign off and dropped out when he was 16 and enlisted for two tours. He wanted to learn a relevant life skill, so he became a 'Seabee'.

Having a father in the military is an interesting dynamic. Not only did his son look up to him but so did this country and his fellow sailors he served with. We hold our military at such a high standard yet we sometimes fail to acknowledge that they too are human. It’s natural for humans to fall short in some areas of their lives. According to James Hiott, having his dad in the military meant a lot to him. He acknowledged shortcomings in his dad's character, yet his mental image of his father remained elevated due to his military service. It is respectable to witness an individual put their life on the line.

The pain that may come from losing any family member who served in the military shouldn't only be recognized on Memorial Day. To dedicate just one day to remember these loved ones when they have countless memories and stories they left behind can be disheartening. Our country as a whole often takes things and people for granted. A one day holiday is not enough to memorialize the sacrifices made. Too much can be forgotten once the next day comes around. Memories permeate our minds with good and bad. They link us to different moments in time, which is why Memorial Day shouldn’t just be one day.

When James was asked to recall a good memory with his dad, he described an experience of playing billiards in the backyard together. They played in a father and son tournament and won, and it was the first time James never missed a ball.

Being able to recall and hold onto memories that spark happiness and joy is truly a gift. From remembering experiences to remembering a distinguished scent, our ability to connect senses to a human being helps us keep their memory, their life alive. When James was asked, " What are some things that remind you of your Dad today?" This is what he stated:

Father and Son fathers day
Roy Hiott (left) James Hiott (right)

"the smell of burning gasoline (it’s one of my favorite smells), the smell of stale cigarettes, he was kind of the man’s man. He did everything one might consider manly. I think about my dad anytime I’m working with my hands - building something or fixing something. He’s nested his way into that part of my brain. I think about him a lot when I’m trying to solve problems too. He wasn’t the smartest person in the world, but he had a unique approach at solving any challenge."

Our memories are with us everyday and everyday most of us can try to recall them. Good memories can help transcend beautiful emotions that occurred in the past into the present. To relive those memories is a gift and ignites gratitude within us.

As a society, we must do a better job of recognizing the humanity behind the soldier. Yes, it is nice to have a day of recognition, but it's even more meaningful to recognize the humanity behind our military everyday. Because majority of the time, if not everyday, people are still healing from the lost of their loved one who served in the military.

I thought it was very interesting to acknowledge the process of healing and finding peace from the perspective of a son. James shares his awareness that,"Internalizing things has had the opposite effect for me. The most healing that I’ve done is pretty much just when I remember the good things about my dad… yeah.. I haven’t moved on. I don’t think I ever will, to some extent, especially considering the terms we were on when he passed. I think I will probably live the rest of my life with some degree of regret, but more importantly with a huge amount of appreciation that I didn’t have while he was alive."

Father and Son hug
James Hiott (son left) and Roy Hiott (father right)

James and Roy Hiott's story of their relationship and service gives us a picture of what can lie beyond the uniform. This isn't a stand alone story but a story that can spark discussion amongst others about other military loved ones who were more than what they sacrificed. They were mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers. They loved to go fishing or play billiards with their son. They had favorite colors and favorite movies. They weren't just soldiers, they were humans, humans in uniform. We must continue to listen and learn from the stories that lie beyond the uniform outside of Memorial Day.

We will always celebrate the whole life of Roy Hiott and continue to lift up his loved ones in prayer for continued healing.


Thank you James Hiott for your vulnerability and for sharing your story. BinaBears appreciates you and was honored enough to gift a custom mini Navy bear by BinaBears that celebrates the life of Roy Hiott.

We can transform your old/unused military uniforms into a unique on of a kind Military bear you can hold onto forever. With every purchase of any Military related bear by BinaBears, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to a local non-profit here in San Diego called Active Valor. Their mission is serve and uplift our veterans and the families of fallen soldiers within our community.

Writer: Sabrina Evans

CEO Founder of BinaBears

Interviewer: Sarah Beltier

Editor: Monique Edison

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