I love the Wounded Warrior Project and all it does to help our injured military personnel adapt to life and take charge of their world. Here’s a video that’s worth every second of your time.
When I had to go into court against the insurance company a couple weeks ago, we saw a naval ship off the coast at Camp Pendleton, practicing loading and offloading of gear. The haze and the sun and the angle of our vehicle made it look rather ghostly, as if it were floating up in the thin clouds. By the time we pulled over at the rest stop, it looked a little less ghostly, but I took a few photos anyway.
I couldn’t leave well enough alone, so I separated myself from the crowd (who were also out shooting with cameras and snapping with cell phones), wandered behind the one tree that stood off to the side, and figured I’d play NCIS agent to get the next two shots. King Arthur had the same idea and was trying to find me certain angles, which didn’t work so well because he’s taller and, guess what? I’m not. So I stuck with my range of view.
Yeah, I’m a total geek when it comes to making something easy a lot more difficult. I think they turned out okay. Sadly, I had no DiNozzo to slap upside the head, although I think I called KA “probie” in keeping with the NCIS theme. (I’ve already admitted I’m weird. No need to say it again, unless you absolutely must.)
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. 1941.
All hell broke loose. America changed forever.
A young girl had awakened early for church. Her parents were still in bed, trying to get a few extra minutes of sleep. They were rustled from their slumber when the girl came in and told them of the plane that almost hit their home. The girl’s father asked her if it was one of “our” planes. The girl would know; she was the daughter of a Naval officer. Had been all her life. The girl told her father about the red dot she’d seen on the plane and her father bolted out of bed. He raced down to work, where total chaos reigned: ships were sinking, buildings were burning, bodies were broken. America was now, without question, at war. The attack was deliberate. The fight was brought to our shores.
That girl grew up to become a Naval officer’s wife, a nurse, a historian, a champion of all those who were at Pearl Harbor on that fateful day, and a role model for many. She later became a family friend. (Somewhere, deep in the “lost” archives of 2008, are entries about her and her remarkable family, her connection to LD and me. If ever I unearth these posts, I will link them here.) I’ve not heard from this dear woman in a couple years and fear she has passed, but today I shall reach out to her (and her son) and find out for certain. I pray she’s still with us.
I think of her stories, her incredible life, the lives of those lost on this day, and how America fought back…I remember the lessons we learned, not just through history books, but through those who survived and shared their experiences with us.
We must listen. We must learn. We must remember.
Author Michael Connelly writes about his trip to visit the troops for CNN.
Watching 108 Hours with my dad. It’s an amazing story.
Blackfive wrote about it last year. It is an honor to know some of the people who helped make this father’s journey happen, even if the ultimate goal wasn’t met. Sometimes our greatest journeys and lessons come in the form of answers to questions you didn’t ask.
We owe our Freedoms to those who give their lives to military service. Our veterans do this despite low pay and lack of recognition. Their families are left alone for long stretches of time. Veterans Day is: “A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.”
The very least we can do is take a moment and give special thanks to those who serve.
In case you aren’t familiar with how Veterans Day came to be, here is part of the story from the VA’s website:
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”
The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.
The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:
Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and
Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and
Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.
An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
Later that same year, on October 8th, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first “Veterans Day Proclamation” which stated: “In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans’ organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans’ Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible.”
This is part of our American heritage. We should know this. We should acknowledge the sacrifices our military community makes on our behalf.
Please take a moment to thank a Veteran today.
You’d think after ten years of blogging you’d get used to losing a friend here or there. But death is shocking no matter what and I certainly never imagined this was in the cards for Lex.
Lex was a dear man. The kind to leave a sweet, funny, supportive comment, or send an email when he felt he could offer fresh perspective. Just seeing his name in the old inbox was enough to make me smile.
I was just thinking about him a couple days ago, too. I had a question only he could answer. In fact, I knew he’d already answered it for me once before but I had to ask again. I didn’t get the chance. Yet that’s hardly the worst thing in the world. No, the worst thing is not having the right words to share with his family; to thank them for sharing him with us; to thank them for being his support system and living the military life as he chased his dreams and kept us all safe from the evils that lurk out there.
Lex was a good man. A decent, hardworking, dedicated, devoted man. He believed in love (of family, of country); he believed in freedom (and fought and died for it); he believed in America (all its flaws and all its strengths — of which he was one of this country’s greatest strengths); he believed in lending a hand and sharing a kind word, shared laughter, thoughtfulness, being honorable, and so much more.
He was an excellent writer, too. His stories could draw you in with a single word.
But, mostly, Carroll LeFon (as those outside the blogosphere knew him) was a man who put his heart and soul into everything he did, keeping in mind that the most important reasons for all that hard work could be found at home: his family. “… ‘Married to the best girl I ever met, who also delivered up three wonderful children. Don’t really know how I could be happier, or more blessed,’ he wrote…”
To his family and close friends, my heart goes out to you. You are in my prayers and I am so very grateful to all that you have given us all these years.
Carroll “Neptunus Lex” LeFon — rest in peace. We salute you, my friend.
The official death tally was given as 2996, but when you consider the number of people who have died since the attacks on America, the number just keeps growing and those lives are just as worthy of remembrance as everyone else.
Our lives have changed. For a moment, we seemed united. Then we started pointing fingers at one another instead of offering embraces to comfort. I’m done pointing fingers and I want to go back to a time when we hugged strangers and took time to get to know neighbors and others. A time when we stopped rushing so quickly toward unimportant busy work and took time to appreciate the laughter of a child or to feel the warmth of someone’s hand in ours. Where we slowed down a bit to marvel that another day had begun and ended without catastrophe and we thanked God or whomever for that. When we took an extra few minutes to linger at the doorway to watch our children sleep or to just peel an apple for them as they colored on a piece of paper.
Stop rushing. Start counting to 3000 and then keep going…as long as you can. In that time, peel an apple or orange or write a note to put in someone’s lunch bag, place a call to a friend or to someone who maybe once was a friend. Reach out and do something different. Do 3000 different somethings that recognize the lives lost, the lives impacted by September 11, 2001.
Be a little less about yourself and a little more about someone else. The rewards are incredible.
I return to “Rhymes & Reasons” by John Denver, as I have every year since that fateful day. It says so much to me.
So you speak to me of sadness and the coming of the winter
Of fear that is within you now that seems to never end
And the dreams that have escaped you
And the hope that you’ve forgotten
And you tell me that you need me now
And you want to be my friend
And you wonder where we’re going,
Where’s the rhyme and where’s the reason,
And it’s you who cannot accept, it is here we must begin
To seek the wisdom of the children
And the graceful way of flowers in the wind
For the children and the flowers are my sisters and my brothers
Their laughter and their loveliness would clear a cloudy day
Like the music of the mountains and the colors of the rainbow
They’re a promise of the future and a blessing for today.
‘Tho the cities start to crumble and the towers fall around us
The sun is slowly fading and it’s colder than the sea
It is written from the desert to the mountains they shall lead us
By the hand and by the heart they will comfort you and me
In their innocence and trusting they will teach us to be free
For the children and the flowers are my sisters and my brothers
Their laughter and their loveliness would clear a cloudy day
And the song that I am singing is a prayer for non-believers
Come and stand beside us, we can find a better way
Act I, I shall go thank a vet.
Act II, I shall plant some seeds that will someday blossom.
Act III, I shall speak the names of the dead with great reverence.
Act IV, I shall tell my family I love them.
And the rest of the acts will happen as they will. I’ll cease counting and let them just become a way of living for me. Today is the perfect day to do that.
Until July 14, you can donate to Soldiers’ Angels and help Valour-IT raise money for laptops for wounded troops. This is an extremely important cause. Voice activated laptops allow the wounded to stay in contact with family and friends as they undergo lengthy procedures and recuperation that keeps them, oftentimes, far from home. This technology gives them a little peace of mind, which promotes healing.
I’m not on any team this year other than that of the wounded warriors. So, please, go donate — either to one of the branch teams or to SA Valour-IT in general. It’ll make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Here’s a movie everyone should see. It’s called The Way We Get By.
As William Knight, a World War II Army Air Corps and Naval veteran of 32 years and 3 months, says at the beginning of the film, he’s doing his best to fulfill his citizenship to the fullest as he greets heroes at the airport in Maine. He considers himself part of a big family of greeters. What a lovely sentiment!
The other two greeters featured in the film, Joan Gaudet — mother of Aron Gaudet, director — and Jerry Mundy, also have some amazing insights.
It’s an all too common fact in this country that our elderly and our military are often looked at as “forgettable”, or rather, they aren’t even considered by far too many people. This movie is a beautiful reminder that both segments of our population are very special and integral to the core fabric of our nation. Both have served us and it falls upon us now to serve them. It should be our honor to serve them.
Please set aside an hour and a half to watch this. You’ll be glad you did. And please, pass the link along to others.
Have tissues at the ready.
I was thinking about once again not being back in San Diego with LD, doing our regular Memorial Weekend thing. This is the second year we’re not participating in the dressing of graves out at Ft. Rosecrans and it sits heavy on my heart.
Going through my archives, I found the entry from 2008 and it gave me pause. I was struck by the conversation I had graveside with a total stranger and how we were able to just start talking; how we both felt an overwhelming sense of needing to be there. It’s hard to be here instead of there and not be doing…something. So, since last year, I’ve found a place where I can go to honor America’s military. I’ll be heading down to Boulder City. I hope you are also able to take a moment to pay your respects to those who have and who do serve in our military, including their families.
Have a very safe Memorial weekend and feel free to share your stories in comments or with a link to your post. And if you happen to run across a veteran, please give thanks and/or a hug or handshake. I guarantee you’ll make someone’s day.
Today is a very solemn day. Pearl Harbor was and always be a reminder of what can happen if we aren’t vigilant at all times.
One of the best ways to honor those who have served, who have given their lives for this country is to do something for those who are still living and serving. To that end, please take a moment to consider donating your time and/or money to Cooking With The Troops and help bring nourishing meals to the wounded, perhaps giving some a new career, and helping to strengthen their families. It’s real deal soul food. Feed their bodies and their spirits.
It is especially important that we contribute something during this time of year. Holidays are often very stressful in the best circumstances. Imagine what our military families and our injured troops must endure.
Might I be so bold as to suggest that a donation be made in the name of a loved one in lieu of a big boxed gift? Yes, I do think that’s a gift from the heart that few would turn down.
May we all be so fortunate that we can spare a few dollars to really change the lives of others.
Men and women lost their lives 69 years ago protecting this great nation. Men and women, still today, continue to put their lives on the line to uphold the ideals of Freedom and to keep us safe. Let’s honor them all and share our bounty through Cooking With The Troops.
How do you thank someone you’ve never met? How do you let them know you appreciate their efforts to keep you safe and free?
All I can think is to say, “Thank you!” and to support organizations that help our military and their families. The USO, Soldiers’ Angels, Cooking With The Troops, Tell Them Thanks, Wounded Warrior Project, and many other great service groups out there who share the deep sense of honor and appreciation that we feel. (Some of these groups can be found here.)
In a world where it is increasingly easier for us to shut our doors and turn a deaf ear to the needs of others, it has become even more imperative for us to reach out to the military community and give words of thanks, hugs, buy a vet a cup of coffee, put a smile on a child’s face, say a prayer, plant a flower or tree in someone’s honor, make a donation to an organization, VOLUNTEER with an organization. Do something.
Without our military, our freedom is not guaranteed. Our safety is not guaranteed. Men and women stand at the ready, near to home and far away, always ready to defend us…always ready to defend you, defend your children, your parents, your neighbors, and mine. They make sacrifices so that we remain free.
Go say thank you…some how, some way…you’ll feel something well up within you that you never knew existed.
And it would be remiss if I didn’t remind all that today is the final day of the Soldiers’ Angels Valour-IT fundraiser. A couple dollars donated to providing the wounded with voice-activated laptops while they recover from injuries is a fantastic way to start saying THANK YOU, US MILITARY and FAMILIES!
Special thank yous go out to my father (Navy), my ex-husband, his dad, his uncle and aunt (Marines) and his cousin (Navy and Coast Guard), and to the many friends and their families who have given of themselves. More thanks to the families and organizations with whom I’ve worked over the last several years. Thank you!
Pam also has a list of places offering free or discounted food or services today.