Hi my fraternal brothers,
What Veterans Day meant to me.
Well, yesterday turned out to be one of my most memorable Veterans day in years. And certainly in these past 5 years.
My plan just going to go out & have a breakfast where I had to pay for it. That there was no way that I was going to try one of those restaurant chains that offered free limited menu meals. Plus I was going to stay home hunkered down in my apartment.
But after I got home from eating breakfast I gave some thought about going up to the VA Med Ctr and see what Veterans Day celebration they had planned as it was advertised in the local paper. Between 11 am & 2 pm.
It was a beautiful warm 74 degree and sunny day, with no wind. I drive up there and there are already a few hundred people there along with a local high school band, the VFW, color guard, American Legion & DAV & of course us Veterans.
The wheels in the VA medical system were there, an Army Colonel from Ft. Hood was there & the Congressman from this district.
They all thanked us for our service & how we all have come from a long line of American patriots since the Minutemen. Both in volunteering & being drafted. Coming to serve her whenever & wherever we were needed.
How they aim to live up to that promise of taking care of her veterans, America’s sons & daughters past, present & future.
Military music was played & as each services song/hymn was played to stand up or raise our hand on our branch.
Just after I had gotten there shortly before the 11th hour on the 11th day on the 11th month, a family was standing on my left & a young girl came over to me and took my hand & gave me a roll of mints to chew on. Surprised me all to hell in her showing me thanks for my service.
After listening to all the speeches there was a firing party saluting our dead & the playing of Taps.
Then there was going to be a dedication on a newly opened home/dormitory building. A ribbon cutting ceremony a tour of the state of the art building & a free BBQ.
I decided to go on over & stay in the company of my fellow veterans, their wives, kids, grandkids, etc.
I wasn’t in any hurry to go home & be all alone with those usual bad thoughts & memories that come into my head on this day. I wasn’t going to let those ghostly voices get the best of me on this day.
They had a tent set up to get out of the sun and I sit down in the last row, others were talking & intermingling with each other & I just sat there alone watching everyone else. Every now & then a lady would come over asking me if I would like something cold to drink or if they could get me anything, and my reply was no thanks ma’am, sure appreciate your offer.
Along comes a group of young school girls & they came up to each veteran and gave them a small American flag & a back scratchier. And thanked us for our service. Wow, I thought what a nice gesture & I personally thanked them for it.
The ribbon is cut & the line for the free BBQ opens up and there were about a few hundred there too including those girls, the high school band & hosts.
There was no way that I was going to stand in that very long line for anything, and besides I still had that big breakfast trying to digest.
I’m sitting there when a young guy with a camera hanging from his neck and a note pad in his hand comes up to me asking me if he could ask me a few questions, sure, no problem. What’s your name? Are you a Vietnam vet?
(I had my ball cap on.), what years were you there? Do you belong to any veterans groups? No, sir I’m not a joiner. But I do belong to some as a non participating member.
Do you get your medical care here at this facility? For how long?
He thanked me & moved on to others. I watched him as he did & he spent a lot more time with those others. I guess that my single word answers were pretty boring.
But, for the first time, I felt real proud of myself & what I had accomplished in my service to my country. That others (strangers) had acknowledged & appreciated his service as well, and that there was even a national holiday set aside in my honor as proof of my worth as a human being.
That a young boy named Pete whom had to create his own world in order to survive things going on around him & to him that he could not comprehend, understand nor have any control over.
His survival/dream world was the Army Air Forces & the U.S. Air Force.
That young boy would get to live that survival dream in real life & it will be a part of him for the rest of his life. A very lucky boy indeed.
This day was in honor of that young boy/man and we appreciated it & celebrated it with pride.
We ended the day by going to Applebee’s restaurant and enjoying a free meal in our honor.
I did not let any of those ghostly voices from my youth spoil my day & perhaps I have finally buried them forever with my “mom,” the person whom had seared those words into my heart, mind, body & soul.
A magnificent day for a boy/man named Pete. The thanks of a grateful nation.
I sure hope that my brothers have great & magnificent healing days in your journey in healing. You sure deserve them.
“I will take that lost boys hand & I will lead them from the depths of darkness, into the sunshine, forever into eternity.” As he is me.
Working Boys' Home 10-14 yrs old, grades 5-8. 1949-1953
A very humble alumni of the WOR Dahlonega, GA.
May 15-17 2009, Alta, Sep. 2009. Sequoia, 2010.
Hope Springs, 2010.