Because all experiences are valuable.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

So Many Give So Much

Today is Veteran's Day.

I'm proud to live in a town that still puts on a Veteran's Day presentation to honor our Veterans.

I never thought, after high school when I moved away from this town, that I would ever live here again. It seemed like that would be a failure. Every birdie leaves the nest. I never understood the desire to stay in the same place where you went to school, seeing the same people at the grocery store, going to football games at the same stadium. But now that everyone in my family is dead, except one sister, there is indeed a comfort to being here in the town where my mother and sister are buried, and so many friends remain. It has been a joy rediscovering them.

Today, Reid participated in a Veteran's Day Memorial Celebration. Our town has a permanent memorial park.

Now that marching season is over, Reid is playing in
the symphonic band, playing tympani.
In my opinion, tympani are really cool. So big and coppery colored. And you get to hit them really hard with big strokes. I guess he gets to do that on most drums anyway.

There he is, listening to the Mayor speak. There were a great many participants, from Boy Scouts, to patriotic homeschool choirs, from the VFW and American Legion, to Marine Colonels.

Such a large number of members of my family fought and died for our country.
I wish I had some good pictures of my father from his time in the military.
It was strange to realize, as the mayor spoke of the opening of the Veteran's Memorial in 1995, that I was there on that very day, listening to my mother sing with the Cumming Chorale.

At the founding of the park, town members could donate a flag pole, and their loved one's flag, and the name of the local veteran would be inscribed on the flag pole.

My sister had died just a few short years before, serving in Japan.

Naval Lt. Brynda C. Drane. My mom purchased a flag pole in memory of my sister. Shortly thereafter my grandfather died. He was my mother's stepfather, her own father, Lt Charles Steide, having been killed flying one of the last missions into Germany over Italian airspace. My grandpa Bob, also proudly served, losing most of his liver to schrapnel and jaundice that hospitalized him in Europe for almost a year.   

      The last person added to the flag pole was my Mother's uncle, John Smith. When my last Great Uncle dies, maybe I will have him added as well. There are now over 100 flagpoles in the park, and my sister's is number 10. Right next to her flagpole is another gentleman I knew and loved, former Police Chief Gabe Dukas. Who kept his big round policeman's eye on me all through high school as a favor to my mom, and he did it with good humor and love. I remember if he would see my car at Dairy Queen downtown, he would stop in and ask me if I was behaving...that was small town life then.

Reid didn't even know about any of this. After the ceremony, I asked his band director, the talented Mr Mashburn, if I could snap a picture of Reid next to my family's flagpole. He obliged me. Reid was like, what? I have family members represented here? When we took the picture, he asked me if it were okay to smile.

Yes, Reid, your Aunt, and your Grandfathers, and your Great Uncle would be proud to see you smile, and play the tympani, and stand tall and respectfully in your uniform, on this Veteran's Day, and remember them.
Smile big, because that's exactly the life they wanted you to have, and exactly why they chose to serve as they did.

Bless all Veterans on this and every day, Lord.