Despite playing Taps at Veterans Day observances as a high school band member, and growing up in the household of a WWII naval officer who participated in many of that horrific conflict’s South Pacific island invasions, Veterans Day had over the years become just another perfunctory national observance.
Until last weekend that is.
In New York with family and touring the air/sea/space exhibit on the Hudson River, I was the recipient of an unexpected jolt of patriotism and gratitude.
People of all ethnicities and backgrounds, and speaking different languages, flooded the exhibit, most of them in visible awe of the aircraft carrier, submarine and huge space shuttle on display.
Snatches of prideful conversation among U.S. veterans, many of them aged, could be overheard. And the retired service men and women who staffed the exhibits, patiently answered questions and told stories about their time aboard these now dated displays of America’s efforts in the defense of freedom and world peace.
Seeing all this through the eyes of our grandchildren made me especially aware of the sacrifice countless men and women have made.
As an antidote to the seemingly inane and pointless politics of today, might I suggest a conversation with a Veteran? Or maybe a visit to one of the memorials our country has enshrined to remind us that freedom is not free.
We owe an unpayable debt to those who have served. Marking Veterans Day is a small reminder of that.