Peggy Sanders: Confluence Chronicles 11-12-12
Veteran’s Day has a history and for some it is quite personal. Originally it was called Armistice Day as it was a remembrance of when the truce (or armistice) was signed once the fighting ceased after World War I, ‘the war to end all wars,’ as it was known. The leaders from the various countries signed on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month or November 11 at 11 a.m. in the year 1918. It was one year later that the first Armistice Day was observed and it was made a federal holiday by Congress in 1938.
Both of my grandfathers were veterans of World War I. My husband is a retired lieutenant colonel (Army) and our younger son completed his Army ROTC obligation, which included two tours in Iraq, when he was a captain. This tribute is to all veterans but the story I tell is about only one and the family who waited at home.
While visiting with another Army mom whose son is currently in his second tour in Afghanistan brought it all back to me. Her son is stationed at Ft. Carson, Colo., just over 420 miles from our southwest South Dakota homes. I asked her if she had gone to his homecoming after his first tour and she said, “No, I thought it was more of a close family thing, for him and his wife, so we didn’t go down.”
That was like looking in the mirror as that is exactly what I thought on our son’s first redeployment. It turned out that several of my extended family who lived closer did attend and they called me while the ceremony was going on. I vowed then that I would go the next time. My friend had already decided she would be going.
Six years ago this Veteran’s Day, our son came home from Iraq, also back to Ft. Carson. The gathering was held in an old gym on post. Families held signs with welcoming messages for their soldiers. Everyone was anxious to see them yet even the small children seemed to be under an air of calm.
All at once over the very loudspeaker came Toby Keith’s song, “The Angry American (Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,” and the door from outside opened. There they were! As they marched in, I broke down and sobbed my little heart out, surprising even myself. Months of pent up fear that went unspoken was finally allowed to come out. I saw our son who was quite near where we were seated and he acknowledged us as best he could in formation. After an extremely brief announcement of “Welcome Home!” the troops were released to their waiting loved one. To assure I will never forget the moment, my cell phone ringtone is, “The Angry American.”
These celebrations are open to the public. I would strongly recommend attending if you have the opportunity even if you don’t know anyone personally. It will bring the realization of where these soldiers have been and why, right to your heart.
Peggy’s internet latchstring is http://www.PeggySanders.com and it is always out. ❖