I'm a little ashamed to admit this but I don't normally give Veterans Day a lot of thought. It's always been more of a bank holiday than anything else to me until this year. I don't know if it is different this time around because of social media and seeing all the photos of armed service men and women or the fact that this woman I only slightly knew in St. Louis lost her veteran son to suicide last week, due in part to his PTSD from war, and how that has haunted me, or both. But I got to thinking about my dad, who is a veteran.
This one year back when I was in college I was vacationing with some family and we went to an Opry in Osage Beach or Branson, which is the Missouri version of a Vegas show only with more hillbillies. I always want to think that those shows are really cheesy or stupid but the fact is that they are always, always entertaining. Anyway, this one particular time we were at an Opry and late in the show I heard my name announced from stage. My dad had told them ahead of time that it was my birthday, even though it was probably August and my birthday is in late September. I was surprised and embarrassed and my dad kind of nudged me smiled and clapped whole-heartedly along with the rest of the crowd who applauded to congratulate me on another year of life. Then, just a moment later, the stars of the show asked all the veterans to stand up as they sang Proud to be an American, or something like it. Lots of people around us stood up tall and accepted applause but Dad just sat there with a half-smile on his face, looking straight ahead and enjoying the show. I nudged him and motioned for him to stand; he did after all serve our country in the Navy for two years in the sixties. But he refused to stand.
Happy Veterans Day and many thanks to all those who have served our country in big or small ways. Whether you know it or not, you have made a difference and you deserve today.