On Veterans 2014

Upon seeing this commercial, I knew I had to use it for Veterans Day. On this day, a special salute to all US military veterans.  Also, for my world-wide audience, may this create a moment for you to give thanks to the veterans who served your country.

On Flanders Monday

Another weekend is in the files, so how was yours? Surprise, surprise … we stayed busy!

My wife continues to follow doctor’s orders, so no ballroom for us. Our weekend considered of hosting a friend for dinner and wine, a college football game, playing euchre with a few neighbors, and being caretakers as both of my in-laws had recent setbacks.

Last week I mentioned our Japanese Maple was approaching being full red. One week later, it’s about 50% bare.

By the way, is anyone else suddenly not receiving emails about new posts from those you follow?

Celebrations for your week ahead

  • (Week) Dear Santa Letter Week, Pursuit of Happiness Week, Geography Awareness Week, Kindness Week
  • (Mon) Origami Day, Orphan’s Day, Sundae Day, Air Day
  • (Tues) Pizza with the Works Day, Happy Hour Day, Moms & Dads Day, Chicken Soup for the Soul Day
  • (Wed) Kindness day, Indian Pudding Day
  • (Thurs) Pickle Day, Teddy Bear Day, Lossen-Up Lighten-Up Day, Guacamole Day, Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day

Whether its Veterans Day, Remembrance Day, Armistice Day, or by any other name or even another day, for many it’s a day to honor the living who served. For others, it’s a day of remembrance for those who sacrificed. Either way, I’m foregoing my traditional Monday Morning Entertainment for a tribute to the original day while providing two appropriate videos around In Flanders Field – the top as a poem, the bottom as a hymn. Take your pick

Have a good week.

On a Day of Elevens

November 11, 2011 – 11/11/11 – and then we can expand this to include the 11th second of the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day on the 11th month of the 11th year in the century. We also know that 11 is the lowest positive number with three syllables, but I have not knowingly encountered an 11-sided polygon (which happens to called a hendecagon or undecagon).

Today is much more important than a post about elevens, and important enough to forego my normal Friday feature of Opinions in the Shorts – today is Veteran’s Day.

As I looked ahead to this day earlier in the week, I was thinking about my dad, who passed away in September 2010. As an eighteen year old, he left high school early to join the army during WW II. Obviously, he was one of the younger soldiers. Being that he would have turned 85 in a few weeks serves as a reminder that the number of surviving WW II veterans is rapidly dwindling. Besides, 2011 is the year of the passing of the last surviving WW I veteran – Frank Buckles.

We baby boomers grew up in a time with that war fresh in the minds of many. Who knows how many movies, television shows, and documentaries we watched during our youth. We didn’t live that war – yet the effects of that time. We lived a good life because of the efforts of many – and led by those who Tom Brokow called The Greatest Generation.

Although a day will come when the last WW II veteran is no longer physically with us, we have memorials throughout the land that are designed as a reminder to the living.

On this Veteran’s Day, we celebrate all veterans who served in our armed forces at any time in any war and in time of peace, but a special tip of the hat to those WW II soldiers – those who fell in combat, those who have passed on, and those who still are alive.

On a Retrospective to Veteran’s Day 2009

Yesterday was Veteran’s Day and since my work location was closed, I had the opportunity to watch more cable news. Sure the day is filled with parades, speeches, and moments of silence, but it is a day that should cause each of us to reflect.

I thought about Vietnam. Although I didn’t serve, I lived the times. Years later when the Vietnam Memorial design was proposed, I recall the outcry against it. Then again, I also recall visiting it and the special feeling I got walking down the ramp into the memorial. Wow – I guess the design was right after all.

I thought about my dad who served in WW II at age 18. He’s always kept in touch with his Army buddies, yet their numbers decrease each day. I heard a report today saying that there are over 2 million WW II veterans still alive today – yet I also read an estimated of 1200 of them die each day.

I thought about last year taking Dad to a reunion of a post-WW II group. Interestingly this group was made of a few who also served in WW II, but also some who where just getting started, thus eventually ending their military careers following Vietnam. The link to those two wars was right there in the room with me among them. I wrote about the reunion weekend last Veterans Day (here’s the link).

I watched President Obama’s speech at Arlington National Cemetery. It was a good speech that was full reflection – then again presidential speeches on this day are good for that, no matter who delivers it.

I also saw a report about Honor Flight – an organization that is funding trips so WW II veterans can visit the WW II Memorial in Washington. Very impressive, but I’m sorry that I was unable to find the online video version. In its place, please visit the Honor Flight site for more information about this noble cause, and here’s an ABC News video from 2007 about the person who started it.

A Weekend with the Greatest Generation

Although the election brought us history and plenty of political fodder, the election isn’t everything. As a matter of fact, Veteran’s Day could be the perfect day to step away pause and reflect. Heck, it may even give us insight for the challenges ahead.

Tom Brokaw’s Greatest Generation is composed of those growing up in the depression and fighting in World War II, Korea, and even Vietnam. This generation worked hard, served as business leaders during years when small town America had thriving downtowns, and led all levels of big industry and business. This generation created the baby boomers, and work hard to insure that they would have it better than them.

This generation knew how to be frugal because they lived it; then learned how to be prudent as their wealth accumulated. Imagine predicting to this generation about the day of $4 coffee and $1 bottled water.

On a weekend in September I got a chance to be with many from this generation. My dad was a soldier in World War II, and then re-enlisted in the 1950s. Although Korea had started, knowing the Italian language helped him get assigned to the Free Territory of Trieste. This particular weekend served as a reunion for the Blue Devils division that patrolled Trieste following WW II, thus essentially the beginning of the Cold War.

As their numbers dwindle and getting around becomes increasingly difficult, these proud men have yearly reunions. There’s no set program, just time for them to reacquaint, reminisce, and laugh. They came to St. Louis from allover the country; heck, even two came from England.

Interestingly, many of these men married Triestine women, so these ladies are also an integral part of the story of this time and place in history. I was captivated by the stories they share about growing up during the height of Fascism, encountering war, dealing with occupations by the Nazis, the Communists, and eventually the Allies. Their pride for their city was evident, as was their appreciation for freedom.

Since I was born in Trieste during this period, this served as a personal renewal of my roots. Even more so, it was a chance for me to more fully understand the impact of this generation. Their stories, personal bonds, and their ties to history bind their pride into one.

This group lived the depression. Some participated in world war that was truly about freedom while all of them lived the post-war cold war period. These are the people who built America with their hands and minds. These are the people that gave baby boomers like me the chance to have a better life than they.

We baby boomers got the education to advance. We baby boomers got the chance to experience many material things better than our parents. We got to experience freedoms for which they fought.

A better life? – I’m not so sure. Since life is shaped by the experiences one lives, there’s no way we experienced the magnitudes of their life. To fully experience where you are, you must know where you’ve been. But yes to a better life because we got a chance to experience of the benefits you preserved.

On this Veteran’s Day, thank you to all veterans for your time and sacrifices; but a special thank you to the Greatest Generation for significantly changing life for so many.