Being thankful for those who served
I receive a multitude of items through e-mail. Solicitations, jokes, political and other propaganda, amazing things to see on YouTube, etc. You know what I’m talking about; you receive them, too. Most of it gets the same treatment—deleted to the trash.
Occasionally, there is an exception. One occurred this week when I received a link to a YouTube site showing a performance by the West Virginia University Marching Band during halftime of a football game. It is a special tribute to the nation’s Armed Services and is an outstanding performance.
The performance includes several intricate formations, which must have taken hours and hours of practice. Each branch of the Armed Services is recognized by the playing of its song with a formation appropriate to that branch. For example, while the Air Force song is played, the band is in formation as a airplane flying across the field. You will enjoy watching the video. The link is provided below.
At this Thanksgiving season, I have much for which to be thankful, and watching this band performance reminded me of how thankful I am to live in this country and how grateful I am to have served in the U.S. Navy. Along with other veterans, I value the appreciation and respect shown to veterans by activities such as the WVU band’s performance.
A church I attended while living in another town honored veterans once a year. The choir would sing one verse from each service song and while the verse was being sung members or veterans of that branch of the service would stand so the congregation could honor them. I have also experienced that here in Stillwater at a community band performance and an Air Force Band concert. I have been proud to stand each time.
While attending an Oklahoma State football game two or three years ago, I stood with the crowd and saluted the flag during the playing of the national anthem. The announcer had reminded veterans to salute. When we sat back down in our seats, a woman behind us tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around, and she said, “I just want to thank you for serving.” She’ll never know what that meant to me.
Sometimes a recognition of veterans can lead to an unusual experience. A few years ago I was in South Dakota attending a conference of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors and we visited Mount Rushmore. At dusk, a flag ceremony was held on the stage of the little amphitheater at the memorial. A Boy Scout troop lowered the flag and folded it. Veterans in the audience were asked to come to the stage to be part of the ceremony, and the flag was passed down the line of men and women vets who came to the stage. Standing there, I overheard a fellow behind me talking and heard the name of one of the ships I served on. Turns out he served on the same ship, though we did not serve aboard her at the same time. And we met years later in South Dakota because vets were asked to be part of a flag lowering ceremony.
Thanksgiving is not a holiday in which we traditionally honor veterans, such as on Memorial Day, Veterans Day or Independence Day, but the video of the band performance brought to mind for me how thankful I am for those who have served and how privileged I am to have also served. Without the role played by our Armed Services, we have no guarantee that the freedoms we enjoy in this nation would still be ours.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving and be thankful for all that is yours.