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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thank You, Veterans


Today was a day filled with a collection of odd turns and twists…mind if I share it with you?  

So I was up extremely early…about 3:30 a.m. or so…and often when I get up like that, I will read, including a little devotional I get via email.  When I opened the email to read it, there was an email from a gentleman in France I have never met, but have exchanged emails a few times, asking me a question about World War II.  In his country, he is involved in several fascinating projects that center around appreciation for what our soldiers did for them.  Many of the projects involve our soldiers whose actions received less attention, because they were part of the invasion of Southern France, not the beaches of Normandy.  His email and questions came because I had been the go between between he and dad - when he was researching the events surrounding those who landed in Southern France (and Italy and Sicily).  

Anyway, I replied to his email, and he replied back, so it was for me, a nice start to the celebration of Veteran’s Day.  Being somewhat of a ditz, I asked if he realized it was Veteran’s Day, and he indicated it was Armistice Day over there…which I have heard of, but know little about, because I am relatively ignorant about World War I.  My wife later advised me that Armistice Day was the original recognition of November 11 - until it was changed by President Eisenhower who, in 1954, changed it to Veteran’s Day.  So learning something new like that ALSO was a nice piece for Veteran’s Day. 

While eating breakfast, I watched a little more of a DVD series I have been viewing about the Civil War, a fictional story around the historical facts.  Later, I loaded up to go to the cemetery and took flags to put on my dad’s grave, and some mums to plant.  The treat with that was that a good friend went with me, providing emotional support and we shared good conversation about mutual concerns.  Again, a nice Veteran’s Day.

Midmorning I headed uptown (which in my community is only a few blocks away and only a few blocks long), because they were holding a Veteran’s Day parade.  When I arrived, the streets were lined with grade school children holding little flags.  The parade was classic old fashioned Americana, with a politician, small school marching bands playing patriotic songs, people throwing candy off floats, and a number of veterans from various branches of the military and various conflicts, including individuals currently serving at our local armory.  In addition, one of the grade schools had their classes marching in the parade, many carrying home made flags they had drawn in art, smiling and waving (probably because they were out of school for the parade, no doubt!), with proud parents and grandparents lining the way to wave and take pictures.  I thought, my dad would have been very pleased.

As I prepared to leave, I noticed another good friend a distance away, who is a vet, and took the time to thank him for his service.  He introduced me to a friend of his, also a vet, and I was able to express my appreciation to that marine as well. 

My dad was a veteran of World War II, involved in some of the most vicious campaigns of the European Theater.  Arriving at Dachau the day after it was liberated and coming home after two and a half years in Europe.  He had the privilege of hearing words of appreciation for what he did from the young man in France and an Italian woman, who had been a child when the country was freed.  He had the privilege of knowing current service men in the battalion that now replaces his.   Receiving respect and honor on a number of occasions as well as kindnesses beyond measure from them.  I closed the day by sending my best wishes to two of those officers, whom I am privileged to call friends as well.

I don’t like war.  I don’t think killing people is some glorious adventure that solves all the world’s problems.  However, when I see pictures today from Syria and Iraq and all the places ruthless killers seek to dominate weaker individuals, I realize that like it or not, we live in a troubled world, so that people like my dad and my military friends play an important role for all of us who long for the world to be a better place.  

Thank you, veterans and servicemen, who serve for freedom and justice, taking great risks for people like me, who have never had to do what you do.  

God bless you all.  I hope you have had a good Veterans Day/Armistice Day!

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