Tulsa has one of the biggest Veterans Day parades in the country, according to our local news station. Yesterday, despite temps in the high 50s and rain, we met up with our son and grandson and headed downtown to claim our few feet of curb and wait.
There were lots of school kids there, cheering, waving flags and yelling, “Thank you!” to the people marching/cruising past. Us adults on the sidelines whistled, waved, applauded and smiled until our cheeks hurt. The Gold Star Mothers group brought tears to my eyes (Blue Star Mothers have a child in the service; Gold Star Mothers have lost a child in the service). My son spent a year each in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the fear and worry I lived with until he came home is still so clear. Those mothers knew that fear, too, and so much worse. God bless them and their children.
There were a few of the Chosin Few in the parade, along with a couple walking hand in hand, carrying a sign that read “WWII vet and war bride.” 😉 There were VFW units, high school ROTC units, middle school leadership groups, car clubs, a pink (!) fire engine, and the Patriot Guard motorcycle group. (We love the Patriot Guard!!) There were marching bands, too. Our fave — Booker T Washington — wasn’t there (man, can those kids play and move!!), but the others were pretty darn good, too.
It was wonderful seeing the older vets, both in the parade and watching, and even more wonderful seeing the little kids welcoming them. Anyone in the service will tell you that it often seems a thankless job, so such recognition is more important than you can guess. I recall years ago going to a Romantic Times convention to receive an award. We got glammed up, me in a beautiful green silk dress and DH in his choker whites. After the ceremony, a woman came up to him, extended her hand and said, “I just want to thank you for serving our country.” When our son came home from Iraq, he flew through Houston, where all the available airline employees were lined up at the gate to greet the troops onboard. They thanked the troops, shook hands and fed them. Those are both memories they’ll keep forever.
Don’t wait for Veteran’s Day to come around once a year. Think of all the sacrifices our military personnel and their families have made for this country and how blessed we are to live here, and the next time you see an active-duty serviceperson or veteran, stick your hand out. Say thanks. You’ll make his/her day.