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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thank You, Veterans!

Recently I asked for help with a blog topic on FB because I was stumped.  This wasn’t the first time I couldn’t come up with something to say and it won’t be the last. Melody May suggested: “You could do a character interview with the guys of the book, Favorite Thanksgiving Food. Talk about favorite holiday memory. Or favorite holiday reads, might as well start gearing up for the holidays.”

I couldn’t get organized enough to do the interview with the gentlemen from the latest anthology I am a part of, and we did favorite Thanksgiving dishes last Thursday.  I am not sure I am ready to address a favorite holiday memory right now because this is the first year my mother is not in her home, but in a facility for dementia patients. I anticipate this will be a difficult year, and I am trying to put off thinking about it. As for reads, I haven’t even had a chance to check out the latest holiday books because I am on deadline with a slew of edits facing me for my Christmas read due out December 1st.

So, I am a failure with all suggestions.  But, thanks for the excellent choices, Melody, and since you were the only one to give me suggestions, you did win "A Pact Between Gentlemen" for your reading pleasure.

I considered posting about my latest non-writing project, which put me in the mind of Veterans.  My latest project is directing "A Piece of My Heart". It is a play written by Shirley Lauro and suggested by the book by Keith Walker. I had read the book before I realized it was also a play.  The book is about 26 women who served in Vietnam as nurses, WACs, part of the Red Cross and performers.  I did post about this book last year, and I’ve read it a few times since.  A few weeks ago, I held auditions for the 6 female/2 male cast and am beyond thrilled with who showed up for auditions and who I cast. We begin rehearsals on Monday, and I can’t wait to get started.

Working on this project has me thinking a lot about Veterans and the sacrifices they make every single day and as yesterday was Veteran’s Day, I thought to discuss the book and play, etc.  However, my thought process shifted. 

Yesterday, many of the kids were off school, most banks were closed and there was no mail.  I had to work at my day job, but there was a very nice parade downtown that I was able to watch from my office window. It always saddens me to see how few turn out for the Veteran’s Parade.    

I am the first to admit that I am not a parade goer. Even when they are on the weekends and I don't have to work, I don't attend.  So, I am just as guilty for what I will probably be ranting about and I have had to take a good look at myself and wonder where my priorities have been.

The office where I work is at the corner of two main intersections downtown and every time there is a parade it will travel by our building. As we are a corner office, we always stand at the conference room window on the fourth floor and watch.  It is an awesome view and much better than street level.  The Santa Parade is always the day after Thanksgiving when we don’t have to work. But, if it is bitterly cold out, families will bring their children to the office to watch without the fear of frostbite.

There are parades for any number of occasions, such as St. Patrick’s Day.  I am a huge fan of March 17th. I have drank my fair share of green beer, Jameson, Bushmill and my all-time favorite whisky – Tullamore Dew.  Even though I am a wine drinker, if someone offered me a Pinot Grigio or Tullamore Dew and I could only have one, I would choose Tullamore Dew. I am sure I just heard a few gasps that Jane would choose an Irish Whisky over wine, but it is true.

But, this post isn’t about alcohol. It is about what we celebrate and how we celebrate.  More to the point - How I celebrate. Take the St. Patrick’s Day parade for example.  This is always a huge event, at least in my town. I’ve watched the parade from the conference room for years and it never fails that there are so many people that sometimes the parade has to stop until people are pushed far enough back to make room. It doesn’t help that the route is lined with bars that open very early on this day and people just spill out into the streets. I usually stop in somewhere for a drink at the end of the day since it seems like the entire town has been partying without me for several hours.  

I have nothing against this parade, but what saddens me is that both the Santa Parade and St. Patrick's Parade draws five times the crowd that the Veteran’s Parade does.  They all have bands and people tossing candy.  Why aren’t we celebrating and honoring those heroes who put their lives on the line to protect us and this country with the same enthusiasm we do for Santa or St. Patrick? 

Why don't I?

I’ve never served but I have several family members who have.  My father was in the Army, my husband served as a Marine, my nephew served as a Marine, I have two nephews in the Air Force and my son recently joined the Army Guard and will enter training this summer. For most of my life there have been wars and conflicts around the world.  I grew up with the Vietnam War on the nightly news. My cousin, a Marine, was killed in Vietnam and received the Silver Star posthumously.

Men and women serving know the danger they are facing when they repeat the oath and are sworn into the armed forces.  They know there is a chance that one day they will be in a foreign country, or possibly here, putting their lives on the line so that we can hang stockings for Santa, drink green beer each March 17th, and continue to attend parades.

As I watched the parade go by yesterday, and noticed how few people attended, I vowed that I will not miss a Veteran's Day Parade again, especially if I do not have to be at the office.  A lady I work with posted on FB that it was sad to see the low attendance and many people responded that they had to work.  After several such responses she pointed out that on St. Patrick's day many people have to work but it doesn't stop hundreds of people from attending. And she is right.  I am a bit ashamed that I have not attended the parade in the past and vow to do so in the future. It is the least I can do.  What is a few hours of my time spent honoring those men and women when they have sacrificed so much more than I can begin to comprehend?

For each and every Veteran out there, I raise my glass in a toast to your honor. Thank you so very much for making the sacrifice to protect this country and her residents.

Does your town have a Veteran's Day parade?


  1. They don't. It is sad how underappreciated Veteran's Day is. Last year, when I was teaching, schools were in session but nothing was planned. Being in school on Veteran's Day was actually quite controversial in the town I worked in. I spoke to my building principal and he supported me organizing events; we had in Veteran's to come and speak to our students. A ceremony outside. My thoughts are; it shouldn't just be a holiday about a day off...but rather, a day to honor those who've served. Great post, Jane.

    1. Christi,
      I think it is great that you organized a ceremony for Veterans to speak with students.

  2. Both of my grandfathers served during WWII and I have one uncle who was a Green Beret during Vietnam. Since the time I was very young, I've always donated to the Disabled Veterans, and my mother is a nurse manager for a satellite VA clinic.

    But I'm not a parade person. I don't like noise and crowds, regardless of the reason for revelry. I *did* have to attend a local parade when my son's then cub scout pack was marching in it. Cold, loud, too many people. I *do* have a nice pic of my son in his uniform, but I could have gotten that at home. ;)

    As for my city/town... I have no idea if they had a parade or not as I only watch enough national news to know what's going on in the world. BUT I can tell you, my parking lot at work was FULL. I think only kids had the day off from school yesterday. For everyone else it was business as usual.

    1. Ava,
      I haven't willingly attended a parade ever. Those I see are from the office window. It is hard to ignore the loud music as the bands go by - lol.

  3. We don't have a parade, but actually, I was thinking yesterday that Veteran's Day is getting more attention than it did when I was a kid. I remember only the day off from school, and news coverage of the president paying homage, but nothing else. Now major chains like Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, Red Robin and Golden Corral offer Veterans free meals/products on the day. We see more local ceremonies, at least around here.

    I love it! My Grandpa survived D-day. Fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He has fascinating stories--and scars. We honor him all year, but I love him getting a little attention from outside, too. :-)

    One of the most moving things Youngest and I saw in DC this summer was a little group of Veterans at the WWII memorial. Several were in wheelchairs. One wore pajamas. But they were so happy to be there and to be sharing stories and having their picture taken. Youngest went up and thanked them. I cried, just a little.

    1. Deb,

      I also have noticed that a number of food chains offer free meals to Vets. I think it is wonderful. I haven't had a chance to visit the WWII memorial yet. I have only been to the Vietnam memorial.

  4. We don't have a parade either, but I had a similar conversation with a patient's wife yesterday. They live in a small town where there is a Veteran's Day program at the high school, and she was talking about how poorly attended it was last year compared to other years. Part of me wonders if this is because most of our WWII Veterans have died, and the culture/response to other wars after the Big One was so different.

    My uncle was a Korean War vet and he didn't want to talk about the war ever. I can't imagine him ever wanting to take part in a parade and remembering that part of his life. He did, however, take a trip to Korea with another group of vets later in life, and this was a healing thing for him to do.

    I think it's great to make a commitment to attend the parade and show gratitude for the men and women who have served our country. I also think there are many ways to show our gratitude, and I imagine many people are showing their support even if they aren't able to attend a program or a parade. I saw many tributes yesterday on FB, and I've heard heartwarming stories of passengers traveling with a fallen soldier and their deep respect for the soldier and family. The organization I work for presents certificates to the veterans we treat along with our thanks. Yesterday, I had the honor of thanking a WWII veteran who fought in 7 major battles, and I listened as he shared his experiences. That was very meaningful for him, his wife, and me. :)

    1. Samantha,

      I do agree people are more aware and more thankful and appreciative of Veterans. Or, maybe it has always been that way but social media has now made it possible for the appreciation to be shared. I think it is wonderful that your organization presents certificates and thanks to our Veterans and you are in such a great position to listen to their stories.