« Removing Spore DRM | Main | Liar's Poker »

November 11, 2008

All Gave Some. Some Gave All.

Jennifer's class attended the local Veteran's Day memorial in town. Her class goes to the memorial every year that Veteran's Day falls on a school day, but it's been a few years since that happened. This year, the principal called the local VFW post and the school was invited to attend the memorial at 11:11 on November 11th.

I showed up early, before the kids got there. The vets were setting up and I showed up with my camera, wearing a hand knit Alpaca hat from Peru and a Vietnam field jacket and said, "Is this where the Obama rally is supposed to be? I'm the press photographer." They looked at me real hard and then when I started laughing, they started laughing and we all laughed because, what else can you do, really?

A couple of old vets showed up and forgot to bring their legs with them. I made an executive decision and moved some chairs around so they could get their wheel chairs front and center because, if these guys don't qualify for a front row seat, who does?

We are greatly indebted to these people. And I don't really know what to say. But I introduced myself and thanked them for their service and asked them if they wanted a cup of coffee. (I wasn't wearing the hat just for kicks, you know. It was about 50 degrees F.)

So I hustled off and got them a cup of coffee at the local watering hole and got back in time to set them up with their coffee before any of the kids showed up. Then I went and started getting ready for my shots.

I noticed about a half dozen M-1 Garands leaning against a brick wall and I was careful not to kick them over, because they looked real. They didn't look like dummy guns or anything.

A guy showed up with an immaculate WWII U.S. Army jeep. I couldn't tell you if it was a Willis MB or a Ford GPW but it was immaculate. And it wasn't a CJ-2A. I checked that.

And then, on this beautiful November morning, a stream of children came down the hill. Single file, Indian style. Waving little American flags and it was an inspiring sight. To see the children turning out to support the vets.

The kids all formed into orderly little rows as the vets addressed the children directly, explaining the origin and meaning of Veteran's Day.

The ceremony itself wasn't overly dramatic. There was no press, save me. The vets weren't wearing any makeup and they weren't great orators. They were just ordinary heros. The kind we all take for granted.

The children stood before the old vets, silently clutching their little flags. When the National Anthem was played, they placed their hands over their hearts. When the vets prayed, the kids solemnly bowed their heads. It was one rare moments. A true gift that you can only experience in the fly-over country. One of those rare times when you feel like America might still have a chance. That maybe the tree-hugging liberals haven't won so completely.

Then the speaker at the lectern called on the color guard to present arms and suddenly, the M-1 Garands were firing round after round against the clear blue Colorado skies. As the guns of November cracked above their heads, spent shell casings rained down on the Vietnam memorial where we'd gathered. The kids were startled and wide awake. Full of adrenaline and anxious for life.

The head of the local VFW attempted to conclude the ceremony, but a small girl charged forth and explained the she was to sing the Star Spangled Banner. The song is challenging for anyone, but this little girl had an amazing voice. She sang the song with such courage, strength, and emotion that everyone was crying by the end. She was crying. The vets were crying. I was crying. It was a beautiful ceremony.

And then the vets officially concluded the ceremony.

As the kids prepared to prepared to leave, some broke formation to thank the vets and offer them hand written letters or pictures they'd drawn.

The boys asked for the spent shell casings from the blanks and the vets passed out all they'd collected, surprised that anyone might want them.

As the column of kids marched back up the hill like ants, the aging vets stowed their fading flags. Then went home to study, in private, the priceless gifts of the children.

Posted by Rob Kiser on November 11, 2008 at 11:55 AM


Little bit of comfort to know that somehow, there are some schools who are teaching the kids some respect for our vets........

Thanks for "covering" this. Gotta do the link back.

Posted by: Chick Voice on November 11, 2008 at 9:26 PM

Great post Rob. I wish I had been there.

Posted by: Enrico on November 13, 2008 at 8:03 AM

Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)