Veterans Day 2016: In the United States, Veterans Day is a federal holiday that is celebrated every 11th of November. This year, Veterans Day falls on Friday and follows the 2016 Presidential Election on Tuesday, November 8th. Although the Presidential Election is an important day as the future leadership and direction of our country are at stake that day, I would hate it if we failed to remember and honor our veterans.
So, how do we honor our veterans? How do you honor our veterans? In our house, we fly our flag and usually try to attend a ceremony honoring our veterans. In year’s past, we’ve had the honor of taking our son Phil, who now serves in the Army Reserves, out to dinner on Veterans Day. But, you know what? It’s become more of an attitude of gratitude where Lenny and I try to honor our veterans throughout the year and not just on Veterans Day.
Let’s not forget our veterans this year.
Veterans hold a special place in our hearts and thoughts now that we have not one but three children who freely and voluntarily serve this great country of ours. We have two sons who serve in the Army and a daughter who serves in the Navy. In fact, our oldest son is preparing to go on deployment. He’s also served our country in Germany and Turkey. Our daughter was on deployment just last year to the Pacific region. It’s an experience she will never forget!
Being in the military has some perks. Great benefits, come to mind. Ability to “see the world,” might be another (so says our sailor daughter). But so does learning things like character, dependability, pride and compassion and little things like knowing you can count on someone no matter what. I like to believe our children already possessed those characters and that serving in the military only helped to reinforce those values.
We don’t take Veterans Day lightly. We appreciate all those who have so graciously served our country. We feel a tremendous debt to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Then there are those who came home with both internal and external injuries. They paid a price. Sometimes I wonder if it was all worth it.
Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery
You know, Lenny and I had the privilege to visit Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery a couple of years ago. Both Lenny and our sailor daughter thought it was really strange that one of the things on my “must see” list while visiting her in San Diego was the cemetery. I mean, who goes on vacation and visits a cemetery? Who travels 2,500 miles by car and when they get to their destination wants to be sure to visit a cemetery?
They both thought I was crazy. But, they love me and they wanted to humor me. I assured them both that the view alone would be worth the trip. The view of the San Diego Bay was absolutely amazing. But, what was more amazing – the cemetery. There were thousands and thousands of graves. Graves of “our” men and women who gave their lives serving our country.
Yes, there were those buried there who lived a long life and were fortunate to die of old age. The majority? Young men. Young marines. Somebody’s son. Somebody’s daughter. Somebody’s dad. Somebody’s mom. It was somber. It was heart wrenching. It is a scene that plays over and over again in my mind. It is a reality that has touched my husband’s heart and soul in ways he never thought possible.
There’s a tradition, that as far as I can tell from my limited research, dates probably back to the Roman Empire and the practice became especially popular in the United States during the Vietnam War because of the political climate throughout the 1960s and 1970s, where visitors would leave coins on grave sites of veterans. Friends of those who died in combat left coins to let family members know that someone had visited the gravesite. Leaving a coin on the headstone was more practical than contacting the family and risk becoming involved in a discussion about the war.
A visitor who did not know the deceased well enough to be considered a friend might leave a penny. Someone who went through boot camp or a training class with the deceased might leave a nickel. A friend who served in another platoon within the same company might leave a dime. A buddy who served in the same outfit, or was with the deceased when he died, might leave a quarter.
When Lenny, Kristen and I visited Fort Rosecrans, we had a couple hundred pennies. We left coins on as many of those tombstones as we could. We read the names, military affiliation, wars they served in, as well as the dates of their births and deaths. It was almost as if we were walking on holy ground. I cannot explain the feelings we felt, the extreme gratitude and feelings of shame for not doing more to honor these lives.
If you ever have the opportunity to visit one of our national cemeteries, please do. You might even want to take a few pennies with you.
Veterans Day 2016
I couldn’t possibly end today’s post without expressing my deepest heartfelt gratitude and pride that I have for my own three children who proudly serve their country: Phillip – US Army, Brandon – US Army and Kristen – US Navy. I could not possibly be prouder of each of them for their selfless service. Happy Veterans Day to all who have or are serving!
From one grateful mom…..