Thursday, November 10, 2011
When our American flag is raised during Friday night Green Wave home games, you can always spot a tear in my eye. It’s not just the patriotism of the moment. It’s the patriotism of the man standing next to me and who’s been there for 54 years. His carriage is quietly erect; shoulders imperceptibly pulled back, arms straight by his sides, at full attention. His stance never wavers during the Pledge. He might be wearing jeans and a golf shirt, but in my mind’s eye I see him in the orange flight suit he wore for so many Air Force years.
That’s when the tear falls; then, and as I discretely scan the stands in front of me. I can spot others with military backgrounds also at that unmistakable attention. At another football game I once sat behind our former Mayor Berlin G. Myers, who landed at Normandy, and watched him do exactly the same thing. Whether veterans of World War II, as is Mayor Myers, or like Jim, of Vietnam, or any other conflicts, such as Korea and Afghanistan, it’s not hard to find a military connection in Summerville. All these men and women deserve our gratitude today, Veterans Day.
It’s easy in the rush and stress of everyday living to forget those who deal or have dealt with the rush and stress of war, whether in actual battle or working to support and uphold peace. An armistice signed at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 heralded the end of major hostilities of World War I, called “The war to end all wars.” It wasn’t. Veterans Day, originally called Armistice Day to honor those World War I vets, has been commemorated for 92 years and has become the annual American observance to honor veterans of all wars.
Aside from emotional family occasions, about the only time I catch a tear in Jim’s eye is over some event connected with veterans. He may be watching a television program about D-Day, or the fall of Saigon, or recall angry, disbelieving tears at being spit upon by anti-war protesters when he came home after 12 months of combat in Southeast Asia. I’m absolutely sure there were tears in his eyes when he lost so many friends during that conflict. The family of one of those men lived down the street from us while we all waited out that war. His fully armed F-4 smashed into a mountain. There were floods of tears all over the neighborhood that day and for many thereafter.
If you haven’t been to a Veterans Day ceremony and would like a local first hand retrospective of what today means to those who live around you, consider attending the Friends of the Summerville Library program tomorrow. It will be held at the Dorchester County Library branch on Trolley Road Saturday, Nov. 12, from 1-4 pm, in segments. I’ve heard rehearsals for some of the moving presentations. The program includes “Flanders,” “High Flight,” and “I Am an American,” plus personal and national remembrances regarding the Civil War and World War II.
I know those attending any observance such as at the library tomorrow will also contribute at least a tear or two to those occasions.