Today of all days, this bears repeating…..
I used to live in a suburb whose Main Street was right out of a movie. The 4th of July parade was always one of the major events of the year. When I wasn’t riding in the parade to promote the local charity horse show, we would ensconce our family in front of an old victorian mansion that served as a real estate office. From that venue we would wait with anticipation. My kids grocery bags clutched in their hands awaiting candy.
But the parade always started out with the flag and the veterans of our many conflicts. At that time, and until a few years ago, the first vet was a World War One Navy vet. I found out later that he sat in the back seat of that convertible cracking dirty jokes with a friend of mine. That’s okay, he certainly earned the priviledge.
The World War Two vets followed, then the Korean vets and the Vietnam vets (getting their long overdue kudos in great volume). Finally the Desert Storm vets earned their just rewards.
One of the “celebrities” in this parade was SSgt. Clarence Winchell. He was the left waist gunner on the Memphis Belle. In case you are not raising an airplane and history nut or two, (or are married to same) the Memphis Belle was the only World War Two B-17 to complete 25 missions and live to tell about it. When my husband expressed the honor of shaking his hand and thanking him, he modestly said, “We did what we had to do.”
My husband has taught my children to stand and put their hands on their hearts when the flag passes by from the time they were still in diapers and quite fidgety. He also has passed on the privilege and honor of thanking every military person we come across and thanking them for their service. We now live near a National Cemetery and we support the wreath ceremony in the winter.
We need more wreaths each year.
In these difficult times, I choose to honor our servicemen. From Crispus Atticks forward. Thank you. I would not be here blogging, or sitting fat and sassy (okay just sassy) without you and your presence. Or, more importantly, those of you who are absent.
At every turn and in any given moment, Americans have given us what we have now and have had forever: the right to argue, bitch, vote and wag fingers at one another in various uncivilized discourses. There have always been such heated, and at times, rude or downright vicious exchanges. Remember Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton? These discourses, civil or not, are our right, though I wish civility didn’t take such a back seat. For every one of us that can participate this way, there is a family waiting for Mommy or Daddy to come home — intact. Some of these families are kneeling in front of a grave with a flag on it weeping. I could be wrong, but it only seems to come to the fore on a few national days — this appreciation for the sacrifice. Some would choose to use this sacrifice to exercise the right of free speech. Again, a right won with the very blood they protest upon.
Shame on you.
So here is to my father in law, Harley M. Sigmond, U.S Army, First Special Services, European theater. Here’s to my mother, Shirley Ryan, a World War Two Navy nurse. Here’s to my four uncles Bob, Bill, Tom and Pat Moore, also World War Two vets.
I am honored to be able to write this (even if we may or may not currently disagree on the state of things). Thank you for your service, my freedom and that of my family.
Please support the Bob Woodruff Foundation. And thank every vet you meet.