Ask the former generations and find out what their fathers learned. Job 8:8 (NIV)
Today, twenty four years ago, construction began on the house that we still call home. On this day that year, I picked out cabinets, carpet and paint colors. A year later on this day, my mother and I went and bought a crib for a baby who is now graduated from college and living on his own. I know because those events all happened on Veteran’s Day. For many years, to me, Veteran’s Day was simply one of those luxurious government holidays that had no requirements for family events or gift giving. It was a day to do as I wished and that usually meant some form of shopping. For a long time, I had the goal to purchase all my Christmas gifts by Veteran’s Day. I gave no real thought to what the day signified. That is until my sons became involved in military groups, as middle schoolers, Civil Air Patrol and in High School, ROTC. Then, Veteran’s Day became for me what it was intended to be, a day to honor and remember the veterans who fought for our freedoms and stood guard over our country. I have watched as my boys donned their uniforms and marched boldly in parades. I saw them stand at attention as flags were raised, and it made me so proud. Today was youngest son’s last Veterans Day parade as a High School student. As I have for the last four years, I joined hundreds of other parents in line behind our children as they marched down Main Street. The principal always likes a crowd, bragging that between the battalion units, band, cheerleaders, equestrian team and parents, his school takes up the entire length of Main Street. I do not know if it is true, but there were hundreds of us parents walking in the parade waving our flags. As we walked, I heard snippets of conversations and they all sounded like this, “How’s he (or she) doing in school now?” “Great! I can’t believe what a difference a year makes. I wish he could have started sooner. She is like a different kid. His grades are good. Her appearance has improved. I have hope now that things are going to be alright. This school is amazing!” Funny, that’s the same thing I say, so I guess our story is not unique. What makes the school so remarkable is the ROTC instructors, men and women, who gave years of their life to military service and now, spend time in the classroom, training up a new generation of leaders. Because of their influence, while only a small percentage of students will go into the military, all will be active and influential in their communities. It has been a privilege for my son to be under their instruction and for us to get to know these veterans better. This may have been our last Veteran’s Day parade, but my heart is full of gratitude. I will never look upon Veteran’s Day the same way again.