Saturday, November 10, 2007

Day 10: A Stronger and More Hopeful Nation

Interesting quote I came across today:

"We also have essential responsibilities here at home, the unfinished work of American freedom. In a world moving toward liberty, we are determined to show the meaning and the promise of liberty. The greatest strength of America is the heart and soul of the American people. Every time a volunteer reaches out to a neighbor in need, our nation grows stronger and more hopeful."

Today was a good day. I woke up in my favorite place. The girls and I had a little adventure and took the light rail train here in St. Louis, the Metrolink, downtown to see the Veteran’s Day Parade. I have talked before about how unapologetically patriotic I am. I hope to pass love of country and the utmost respect for those who defend it and the sacrifices of their families along to my girls. I was so proud of them today as they stood with strangers and listened to the stories of some of the soldiers that were honored. Then they stood with me along the parade route and clapped and waved and said “Thank You” to at least 3 generations of veterans of the last 5 wars and countless other conflicts.

We arrived late morning to the soldiers memorial under canopy of bright orange and red leaves that were also laid out like a carpet to greet us. We listened to a local father and son’s story about how they flew fighter missions together. They declined the option to be separated on their dangerous missions. Their pride in each other was palpable. It is impossible to know for sure if they believe in their mission. But they believe they are fighting for our country and talked about how all along the path to the war zone was the message that the responsibility they accept is huge and that they never, ever take that for granted.

I wish I could understand why I have such a strong reaction to all things patriotic. The national anthem is often my favorite part of sporting events and when it’s sung before a race that I’m participating in it feels like a prayer to me. It makes me stand a little straighter and reminds of how grateful I am to have the opportunities that I have.

As the fresh faces of the ROTC groups and the enlisted men and women in their parade dress passed by in the company of proud, more seasoned veterans the only word that comes to mind is “heart swell”. I don’t even know if that’s a word. But that’s the only way I can describe the good feeling I was left with while honoring all those men and women today. There were SO many decorated soldiers it was impossible to say thank you to all of them. So we made eye contact with the ones we could. Polished color guards from all branches. Bearded Vietnam Veterans with vests and patches and braids down their backs. Stoic Korean war veterans also holding POW/MIA flags. Stooped and sometimes shuffling older generations who sharply saluted my girls as they drove by. And the several thousand Harley Davidson club members made sure they would not be ignored. [Not a great pic, but you get the idea...about 6 city blocks full of bikes 3 across)

It felt like the right place to be today. Maybe living in the vicinity of an Air Force base and a larger city means that I have more exposure to volunteers who get the call. Hashing actually started at military bases overseas so it’s no wonder that two from the hasher family are heading into the danger zone in the next few weeks. It’s easy to forget when it’s not front page news all the time, but so important to remember. Angels on shoulders.

Oh, and that quote up there? The 43rd President of the United States. George W. Bush.

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Blogger ORF said...

Thank you for what you did Saturday. I chose to stay home (in the bat cave). Was gonna go to Jefferson Barracks today to thank Mom and Dad (both WWII veterans) for their service, but just couldn't muster the motivation. I was also going to leave a comment about your quote and who you quoted, but the NSA might be monitoring this blog...
Next time I see's ya, I'll share my feelings, eh?

7:24 PM  
Blogger mimikatemom said...

DS, you know I have your back. The three of us would have been honored to also accompany you today. All you gots to do is say da word, eh?
Thank you for YOUR service friend.

7:36 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Being the mildly radical socialist that I am, you've given me a friendly reminder that I live in a country where I CAN be without ramifications.

Very effective post.

11:24 PM  
Blogger JJ said...

I always cry when I hear the National Anthem.

It's awesome that you're instilling this reverence in your daughters.

Koreans hate Bush. They call him a crazy monkey.

2:35 AM  

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