Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Veterans Day AAR

On Veterans Day my wife and I attended a ceremony at the assisted living facility where my 97-year-old father now resides. It was almost like a military-themed church service. It opened with the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by group singing of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. A retired Marine chaplain gave a short speech/sermon. Then all the veterans in attendance were recognized. The chaplain and a visiting Navy Commander presented them with certificates of appreciation and pinned commemorative American flag pins on them. In what I thought was a nice touch, veteran's spouses were recognized as well. As the chaplain said, they were the glue that held families together through deployments and changes of station. After that we all sang each service's song (there was no choir or musical accompaniment - the singing was spirited, but wretched). A moment of silence was observed, Taps was played, and everyone adjourned for doughnuts and punch.

One of the things I noticed was the high proportion of veterans. Granted, this was an assisted living home, so most of the folks there were 'of age' during WWII, but the percentage was easily over 50%. I fear today the ratio of those with military service to civilians is nowhere near that high, to our country's detriment.

It was inspiring and heart-wrenching at the same time to see all those elderly veterans struggle to stand at appropriate times throughout the ceremony. The chaplain told them it was okay to remain seated, but none of them wanted to admit weakness. Their spirit was indomitable, even as their bodies were failing.

Veterans Day is kind of a big deal in our family. Dad is a decorated WWII combat veteran (Bronze Star and Purple Heart, awarded during action at the Battle of the Bulge) and retired career military man. Mom was one of the first Women in the Air Force (WAF). My wife's father was a naval officer during WWII. He had an aircraft carrier sunk out from under him (USS Block Island). Her mother was a civilian driver for various military staff officers during the war.

I was in the Army for three years but got out when I discovered I didn't like taking orders.

Then I got married...

After that ceremony we moved on to another. The small town of Boerne, near where we live, has a park dedicated to veterans. Today marked the completion of a project to refurbish and renovate that park. One of the new features is a Walk of Honor. For a small donation you can get a stone in the Walk inscribed with the name and branch of service of a loved one who is or was a veteran. We got stones for all of our family members, so we went there to take a look. A very moving ceremony, and a very well done renovation.

It's wonderful living in a small community that still honors American values and traditions.


Old NFO said...

Sounds like a moving day in more than one way... And glad the community pulled together to get the park done!

CenTexTim said...

They did a great job on the park. Too bad the federal government doesn't function as well as our local one.