Veterans Day an important day to come together
It is November again. You were right. Time does start moving faster and faster the older we get. This year has seemed quicker than it has ever been. Some days, I feel like we have missed two years and it should still be November 2019. But I am glad it isn’t.
This is always a month where we all seem to miss you more than usual. There are so many things on the calendar this month that we shared and always enjoyed together. The Marine Corps birthday, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, and my birthday. And yes Dad, I know it wasn’t your fault that I was born during deer season. And yes, I know if I hadn’t been two weeks late that we could have had normal birthday parties and not eat cake around kerosene heaters and field dressed deer at Castlens Mountain.
There have been so many times lately I have needed you. And so many different things going on where you could have made a difference. And the longer you are gone, the more distant you seem. And that causes almost a renewed grief. Like old wounds opened again.
Today, I will be at the Veteran’s Day parade. I will be there to acknowledge the service and sacrifice of every person who has served our country. To honor those who gave their lives and to honor their families who have lived the rest of their lives with an empty chair at the table and a place in their heart that could never be made whole again. And to honor those who came home without a limb or with scars that were so deep they could not been seen or healed.
As a granddaughter, I will be there to honor Granny and Granddad Castlen, who had four sons serving at one time in World War II. And Grandad, who was sent from his post to visit his brother in the Army hospital after the Battle of the Bulge to help him emotionally pull through. For our uncle that was a Screaming Eagle at Omaha Beach on D-Day and was never the same after his discharge. For so many other World War II vets that have built our family and our community…
As your daughter, I will be there to honor you and your fellow Vietnam vets. I will remember how we never heard you talk about the service until we were out of high school, and how you only started sharing when your other Vietnam buddies did first. What strikes me most about those stories was how you were more forthcoming to talk about what happened when you got home than you talked about what happened In Country. Those stories have left a scar on my heart. To be spat upon, called a baby killer, to have people at the airport urinating on you and your friends. And that was on your first tour. And you had the courage and love for our country to enlist for two more.
As a friend of so many Iraq and Afghanistan vets, many of whom you never got to meet, I will be there to let them know I love them. And even though I can never understand what they have been through, I am grateful each day to have them in my life. They know who they are. And they are like brothers.
So Dad, happy birthday on Nov. 10. We will be with a group of Marines celebrating. But first, today, we will be remembering, and we will be deeply grateful not only for the sacrifices, but also for the opportunity to inherit this country that we must caretake and protect.