Veteran’s Day 2013

22215863_sToday, we take time out to celebrate this country’s men and women who once served in any branch of the military. Although, all members are welcome at many places for free – this day is set aside specifically to honor our veterans. But, I understand that every National Park this entire weekend, including today, is a freebie. Do you have someone in your family or circle of friends who gave of their time in the past for the good of this nation? I had a father who served in Korea; I may have mentioned, each and every one of my brother-in-laws covered every branch, including my husband who went to the Marines. My uncles served in the Army, and I have a cousin married to an Army man.

Funny story, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say, “I wanted to be a Marine all of my life.” My husband received a Draft Notice from the Army, but that would never suffice. So, shortly after school, and knowing he wanted to run in a different direction, he took that draft notice to the Marine Recruiting Station, and pledged his allegiance to that particular branch. Unfortunately, while waiting for his report date, he had a little accident where he suffered a second degree burn to an ankle. As he waited for the ankle to heal, he headed off to the Center to let them know. They called in their physician, who advised it would be some time before he could go, due to the severity of the injury. Hanging his head, he limped away, dream almost squashed. But, three weeks later, he headed back to the Center, ripped off the bandages and said, “Look, you’ve gotta let me go. I’m ready.” One week later, he sat on a bus with a load of other inductees headed off to Parris Island, South Carolina, since he resided east of the Mississippi. Okay, so maybe not so funny, as interesting. But, when he tells me of how he lay in his bunk each night planning his escape – then, I laugh, because that is funny.

By way of history, Veteran’s Day began as Remembrance Day, but is also known as Armistice Day. It received its new name, Veteran’s Day in 1954 after the Korean War. The red poppy is tied to Remembrance Day due to the poem “In Flanders Fields“. The poppies flowered across a part of the worst battlefields of Flanders of World War I, and the red color symbolizes the blood shed in that war.

So, head out today, find a neighbor, a relative, or a friend who served – extend a hand and say, “Thank you.” I can’t imagine how swollen my heart would become in such a case. Imagine being a military person on your way through an airport, train station, or bus depot, and even one person walked up to do just that. Talk about making someone’s day. We have many things in this country for which we can give thanks. But remember, I do believe, the most important would definitely involve someone in the military who fought for my freedom. Let me close with this, and I know I’ve mentioned this along the way, but it’s such a great sentiment. It’s a bumper sticker seen on many cars here in this military capital – “Jet noise – the sound of freedom.” I think that’s something I can live with, can’t you?

Image courtesy of 123rf.com

Information from Wikipedia & PoemHunter.com

Military Capital

Many years ago when we visited this area, we never gave any thought to the military located here.  But, since I’ve lived here, I have discovered that Hampton Roads is the military capital of the United States.  All four branches of the armed forces call this region home, and that includes the Coast Guard.  In fact, Naval Station Norfolk is the world’s largest naval installation.  Probably because of the military, I would say more than 50%  of the people in this area are from some other place.  So much so, when you move here the second question asked, after where are you from is; are you military?

For us, out of the northeast or any civilian for that matter, doesn’t think of the different branches of armed forces there are.  I had uncles who were Army; my father served, which may explain my pro position.  My step-son is Army, and still a Reservist; my husband is a Marine (once a Marine, always a Marine), and he and his brothers covered every branch, with the exception of the Coast Guard.  But, aside from that it’s just not something myself or the everyday person thinks of, because under normal circumstances it is so very far removed.  Now living here, it’s not unusual whatsoever to spot military.  But, even with that in mind, I still find myself at times, staring and giggling like a girl under a spell.

I can remember, walking along in Manhattan, catching a glimpse of Sailors sightseeing around the city.  I’d glance, smile and then, be on my way, but it always proved a great topic of conversation.  I also have a memory of myself at seven years old, riding on the passenger train with my grandmother.  On this particular long trip I sat next to a Navy guy in his stark white uniform.  Falling asleep, and waking up with my head in his chest, my grandmother immediately became very apologetic to the young man.  He responded with something to the effect of, and I must paraphrase here; “Don’t worry about it.  It’s not a big deal.”  Lastly, I recollect twirling in her front yard, watching the jets overhead leaving their white plume.  I didn’t know it then, but now I realize they were probably from Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach.

So, I know you’re wondering what’s the reason for all of this; my husband, driving along the other day, pulled up beside a jogger with a close hair cut.  He slowed the car, put down the window, and commented, “With that kind of hair cut, you must be a Marine.” The young man’s response, “No, I’m a Seal.”

I don’t know about anyone else – my eyes stretched wide, I got all excited, and smiled.  My husband, probably because he’s been there, couldn’t grasp my interest or my excitement.  But, say the words – N A V Y   S E A L –  I’m impressed.  When he told me about this happening I couldn’t think of a better way to acknowledge our uniformed men and women than to write this little blurb, giving them all a corny, but heart-felt shout out, and to say – Thank you.  As usual, I didn’t intend this piece to be a history lesson on the military here, but that’s where it went.  Regardless, whether you are pro military or against, a uniform cannot be ignored when it crosses your path at least once every couple of days.  You can’t pull a cap down over your eyes when sitting behind a car at a traffic light, and the license plate holder on the vehicle in front of you reads, “Jet Noise – The Sound of Freedom.”  Knowing that all these military installations are around, I should shudder from fear of some type of attack, but I don’t.  When I rest my head on my pillow at night I think of that license plate holder.  I then, thank God for the men and women; not only the ones who live across the street or around the corner, but all of them who faithfully and unselfishly protect this country, and my freedom.

Photos courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

Information provided through Wikipedia.com