Today is Veterans Day. A day that we, The United States of America, have set apart to honor those who have served our country. We do so in many ways. In the past decades we would see small town parades with bands and Veterans groups marching along Main Street lined with banners along with Families. There were children on fathers shoulders, hanging on street lamps or sitting on Mail boxes stretching to see the procession pass as the patriotic beats of the towns High School’s Drum Corp filled the air. As I imagine it, It is in black and white.
Still today, each year, I have seen one of these observances displayed in some fashion, on the news, in passing at six or eleven o’clock, if I can manage to stay awake that long. I don’t recall ever witnessing one in person. I do recall as a kid being gathered into a room to sing patriotic ballads to our parents, noting a man in the front row dressed proudly with his VFW cap on, saluting as we sang the National Anthem.
Today I attended my first ceremony complete with the choir, band, banners and pageantry. A U.S. Congressman as speaker. I was seated in the front rows along with other Veterans. I felt out-of-place. I am a Veteran, however I served during the In-Between. After Vietnam and before The 1st Gulf War. I am proud of my service, make no mistake. However it was a time of relative peace and quiet. I saw no jungle warfare, no desert warfare, no building to building street by street combat. I never faced the possibility of a land mine, sniper or ambush. I was fortunate. I know that many are not so fortunate.
It is because of my service during the time I served, I usually remain silent among Veterans. Somehow I do not feel worthy of the greeting, “Thank you for your service.” I see veterans with clear and obvious signs of service and sacrifice. Some have wounds that we never see, wounds only known to the veteran and perhaps their family. No, not all wounds are visible.
As I sat silently among those being honored today, I heard a call for observance for the family’s that have lost a father, mother, brother or sister to service of the country. I suddenly focused my thoughts on those children who have lost fathers or mothers. Those that will never know them. I sent my thoughts and prayers to them. Those children of war who are forever impacted either by the loss of a parent or the wound of a parent not so visible to the passer-by. I sat silently, thinking of the Gold Star Families that have lost a child. It is true, when a person goes off to war, the whole family goes with them in some fashion. Those left behind are left with worry and sleepless nights.
Today is Veterans Day. I sat silently for one hour thinking of what it meant to be a Veteran. When you serve you don’t really think about it. Or at least I never did. However, today I felt something different stir inside me. I felt the need to acknowledge the respect they deserve, to both those who have served and to the families of veterans who have served alongside them.
Thank You for your service.
Linked with Five Minute Friday. Today’s prompt is “Silence”