For many today is a day off, maybe an opportunity to get a head start on Christmas shopping. Yeah, I know we're in some tough economic times and we have far too many too-big-to-fail business operations, so while I'm reluctant to harsh your einkaufsrausch (no more for me, Herr Ober, I'm buying) I'd remind you today is Veterans Day.
I'd hope you could could spare the time today to find an observance, there are still a few being conducted, honoring some, most and actually ALL of those who've worn the uniform of our Armed Forces just to make note of their choice and of their service. Veterans Day gets confused by some (as happened at the Norwich observance Saturday at Chelsea Parade) with Memorial Day, but from its beginnings as a pause to mark the end of World War I (the war to end all wars-who says The Lord has no sense of humor?) it's much more universal and more all-encompassing.
This is the day, and some years the only day of the entire year (but if you know how self-centered I am that doesn't really surprise you, does it?) when I remember my family's ties to uniforms and inspections. I think about my dad's two brothers, Uncle George (his older brother, whose real name was Michael. No one ever told me why he was called George. George was in the US Army stationed in Germany and went home to California to work for Sparkletts (who bought drinking water in the 1950's? Los Angelenos, that's who) with his braut, Mitzi) and his younger brother, Uncle Jack (who spent almost a career in the USAF before his wife, Alice, died of cancer and he was left to raise their tribe of children by himself).
I recall two of my mother's younger brothers, Uncle Jim (on the US Army CISM swim team. Jim served in the Honor Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He smoked Camel cigarettes that he opened from the bottom of each pack) and Uncle John (who was wounded at Pork Chop Hill during America's nearly-forgotten war, Korea. John should have never been in the Army because he could only see out of one eye. When the doctor administered the vision test, he covered his bad eye with his left hand and read the chart. When the doctor told him to 'change eyes', John switched hands but continued to cover the bad eye). All of them were ordinary men, as were all of those with whom they served, the people who are mentioned in the history books are only possible because of all of those NOT in them. All made extraordinary sacrifices for generations unborn and never to be known by any of them.
There's a small event today, in Norwich, at eleven this morning over in Taftville at the little pocket park near the Knights of Columbus. Dennis told me about it, and extended an invitation. I don't think he'd mind if you came along. Like I said, it's small and with each passing year, observances like this seem to get smaller, which in light of current events and world-wide deployments, I find both confusing and dismaying.
Make your life a prayer, I can recall Father Costello from St Peter's telling us as kids. In that spirit, at least for today, "Say a prayer for the common foot soldier. Spare a thought for his back breaking work. Spare a part for his wife and his children, who burn the fires and who still till the earth."