I always wake up on Veterans Day not sure how I’m going to feel. Long time friends and readers know that November 11 was also my late husband Ace’s birthday. Today we would have been celebrating his 48th birthday.
Six years ago I decided to celebrate life, by honoring the amazing veterans that served my country by attending my first local Veterans Day parade.
Today I’m acknowledging my sadness and grief, but I’m also choosing to celebrate freedom and the wonderful place I live – by once again attending the parade – which has grown so much over the past few years.
I’m not a person who posts political rants here on my blog or on Facebook. I don’t unfriend people for posting articles and opinions that don’t align with mine. I simply “hide” crap I don’t want to read… but here’s the thing, young students don’t know how to compartmentalize. Kids hear/absorb everything. You MAY think they are busy with their various activities and digital devices, but they are listening, reading and in some cases mimicking your every word.
ALL of the name calling, hatred towards opposing political sides, finger pointing/blaming and the justifications. That stuff follows them onto buses, into classrooms, onto playgrounds and sports fields. I’ve listened to teachers this week, and looked at horrible images and words on Instagram representing pure hate and racial divide among our students and it’s awful. This is happening all over America and that crushes me. No kid should be afraid to go to school, it’s unacceptable and we as adults need to be the change to right this wrong.
I felt such a sense of pride standing along the parade route seeing American flag after American flag and hearing over and over – thank you, thank you for your service and sacrifices made to every veteran attending or in the parade. People were cheering, people were united and for the afternoon – it renewed my faith in humanity.
VFW 8358 – and dancing dragons
The above veteran served in Vietnam. His wife was standing by me and having trouble with her iPhone. The techie geek in me came to the rescue. She had her brightness turned down so low, her screen was black which was an easy fix. She gave me a huge hug. She was so proud of her husband – when he finally walked by, he saw her, waved and then ran over to give her a huge hug and kiss. I got a little choked up for sure.
The above was a 1948 antique fire engine that once served the Elk Grove community.
Elk Grove’s Vice Mayor and soon to be Mayor – Steve Ly – handing out flags to parade attendees.
It was great to be able to say, “hi” to Steve in person. He has been a huge part of my Time of Remembrance Oral Histories project. His father was an officer under General Vang Pao and a Robin (Backseater) to our American Raven pilots in Laos during the Secret War.
Our School Board President, Bobbie Singh-Allen, walking proudly with Sikh veterans.
Sikhs have served in the U.S. military since WWI and the retired Army veteran/father standing next to me made a point to say this to his three children as they passed by us on the parade route. He said, “These men and their families are just as American as we are. They fought shoulder to shoulder with us and deserve the same level of love and respect you give me and my other veteran friends, please remember that.” I pretty wanted to hug him.
As the mini ponies passed – a parade watcher yelled “Hooray for the poop scooper, they couldn’t do it without you!” – everyone laughed and the poop scooper took a bow.
So many of our high school bands did such a great job playing and marching along the parade route.
I’m glad I chose to attend the parade today. It’s just what I needed. I will continue to do my work with my co-worker Gail in the area of teaching cultural competence, cyberbullying, LGBTQ community support and our Time of Remembrance Oral Histories project… it’s my way of making sense of all of this and contributing to my own community and beyond.
There is so much work to do in other areas too. Jump in, volunteer, talk to your family, friends and neighbors. LISTEN to them, their fears, their ideas. Step outside your comfort zone and start “doing” whatever you can to make you community, your city, your state, your country, a place you are proud of.
Now since this is a food blog. I stopped at a deli on my way home and grabbed a turkey, avocado, jack cheese, spinach and tomato sandwich and Ace’s favorite – a Bud. There is nothing wrong with day drinking on Veterans Day. There will also be cake tonight. Happy Birthday wishes to heaven and a huge thank you to all veterans for their service and sacrifices.