Originally Published: November 13, 2017 5:59 a.m.
Did you enjoy the Veterans Day Parade? It is the one Great Day to honor our men and women who served, watch the bands, the flags, the thrilling display of pride as we are reminded just how much we owe those who wear and wore the uniform.
My father served in World War II, my husband was a corpsman in Vietnam, my grandson is in the Navy stationed at Coronado. When Pearl Harbor was bombed, my father, like tens of thousands of young men, joined signed up for military service immediately. Stationed in England with the 450th Bomb Squadron of the 322nd Group, he recalls flying over France on a mission when the propeller fell off the plane. He landed the plane in a farmer’s field, found some baling wire and had a French farmer and three airmen put the propeller back on the fuselage with a wire used for hay. They took off and made it back to base, to fly again, fight again and try to save humanity from the clutches of evil.
We are a country divided by politics. Yet, our military men and women stay above the fray. They do not question orders, debate the worthiness of a conflict, rail or protest against a President or their leaders. They follow the full faith and force of the military code — to go, walk, run, drive, fly, sail and march into the darkness of battle. No sissies allowed. We have learned as a country that we may hate a war (Vietnam) but we better make sure we honor the soldiers who went there.
Some gave all. So this past Veterans Day, while we might have enjoyed the parade, there is a woman in Virginia who goes to Arlington with a blanket, a thermos of coffee, a bouquet of flowers and a tarnished wedding photo. To lie on the grave of her husband. To take in the loss that is hers. To realize that a war occurred in a place called Iraq, a place she will never go to, never wants to think of, and that her husband on the last week of his third mission was killed. Gone in an instant. But never forgotten. Because life can end but memories don’t.
So a woman can lie on the blanket placed in front of her husband’s gravestone and look out at the thousands of white markers that shout out, “we were alive once.” Another woman, Maria, found comfort in touching the name of her husband, Ted, on the Vietnam Wall. She left the photo of their daughter that he never knew at the base of the Wall.
A thousand parents touch the neatly folded flag that was given to them, when what they really wanted was their son or daughter to come walking through the door.
Historians will analyze the effectiveness of wars we fought in and our elected officials will decide on the new wars we will have to fight. But the “we” is really a group of devoted, loyal, highly trained, brave men and women who have chosen to join the military. Their commitment never ends, their work sometimes underestimated, their experiences are often unimaginable.
Veterans Day is so much more than a long weekend. But it exemplifies how thankful we are and how much we owe our men and women who fought, fight and serve.
Judy Bluhm is writer and a local Realtor. Have a comment or a story? Email Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org.