Ready… Aim…

There are several important rituals I have every year at this time… one is finding a veteran and buying a poppy. I’m happy to report I accomplished that yesterday in Dexter. Another is hanging out the flag at the end of the driveway. I have in the past been teased a bit about that… after all, I live on a dead-end road with only six or so houses past mine… so not many people see my flag. But I know it’s there and that’s important to me.

Unfortunately, I don’t get to watch parades anymore because I’m often in one. I catch glimpses of units going by as we line up and of course I see who’s in front of me and who’s in back of me. But getting ready for it brings back a flood of memories from childhood.

My Dad was a WW II veteran and those childhood Memorial Days were second only to Christmas in importance as family events. I’m not sure how much help I actually was, but he and I had lots of projects to complete before the big day—projects that included working at the cemetery and rehearsals for the honor guard. Folks in town used to say they could tell when my Dad had charge of the honor guard because of the precision. Everything was synchronized. When those guys fired the rifles you only heard one shot. (After it was over and we’d put the rifles away the guys would discuss who’s rifle jammed or misfired during a volley. I felt like I was an insider to a secret that no one else knew.)

I confess that to this day it’s hard for me to watch a ceremony without being a little critical. When we stop for it during the parade I can’t see them but I want to hear one shot.

There are times when it’s important we do that—when we come together and work together and the result is that many shots sound as one. I wish Memorial Day was one of those times—a time when we could put aside politics and political differences, pause in our busy lives, and “fire” one shot:

Thank you!

Editor’s Note: For some fascinating facts about gun salutes and rifle volleys check out this site. Do you know how many volleys are typically fired and why?

Holiday Mail For Heroes

With Veterans’ Day Just around the corner, it seems appropriate to clarify a persistent urban myth and provide folks with an opportunity to show support of our troops. For a number of years, there has been an email forwarded around encouraging folks to send Christmas cards to recovering soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital. Do not do this; these cards will not be delivered.

There is, however, an alternative. The American Red Cross conducts a “Holiday Mail for Heroes Program” that is already underway.  Please note there are some very important guidelines that must be followed… and your cards must arrive at the distribution location by December 7th. (I wonder if anyone saw the irony in that particular day as a deadline!?) One reason this program does work is that all cards are screened. Following the guidelines and mailing before the deadline makes that possible!