Monday, November 15, 2010
My engagment photo in 1972 (black and white for our hometown newspapers).
My two youngest granddaughters. Beth, 12, is on the left; and Presley, 8, is on the right. They're displaying my birthday gift to Beth.
Even though I’m a Navy Veteran, left to my own devices I don’t usually observe Veteran’s Day. When I participated in music therapy in Chicago and Danville, I sang in Veteran’s Day observances at the hospitals as part of a chorus and as a soloist. We usually sang the Service Medley and members of each branch would stand when we sang their anthem, including the Coast Guard. I would sing “WAVES of the Navy” in harmony to “Anchors Aweigh.” I would also sing “Women on the Wall,” a tribute to women who died in Viet Nam, and other patriotic songs. I always felt good about those Veteran’s Day celebrations, because I was giving something back to the people who served in harm’s way and came home wounded physically or emotionally.
This year, however, was somewhat different. On Wednesday, I attended a luncheon for women vets at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center. They merged Great Lakes Naval Hospital with the North Chicago VAMC. Only a few women at the luncheon had seen combat, and I was not part of the entertainment. Most of the women there had served in safe places, like me. When I left the luncheon, I drove downstate. My middle granddaughter, Beth, is in sixth grade and she hugged me and said, “Grandma, were you actually in the Navy?”
“Yes, I was.”
“Well…I was gonna call you tomorrow to thank you for serving, but I guess I don’t have to now that you’re here.”
“That’s nice, Sweetie.”
“There’s a ceremony at the Court House tomorrow. I get extra credit if I go. Do you wanna come along?”
When I said yes, she tried to salute, and I gave the kids lessons in the proper way to do so.
And that’s how I ended up attending a small-town-USA Veteran’s Day memorial service with my granddaughter. It was surprisingly short—introductions of the dignitaries, opening and closing prayers by the VFW Chaplain, a speech by the oldest veteran (a World War II Navy officer), a twenty-one gun salute and Taps. We saluted with our hands over our hearts during presentation of the Colors, the National Anthem (sung a-capella by the high school chorus), and during Taps. Afterward, we met Beth’s teacher so she could get her extra credit, and I assured her that Beth had, indeed, thanked me for my service. I think it was the nicest Veteran’s Day I’ve ever had.