Fridays were made for Sundaes. That was my mantra for today and all things considered, I thought it was a pretty good one. After my three day malaise, I needed this. In fact, I needed to just get away from it all. So that’s what I did.
It was Veteran’s Day today and I felt like that needed to be celebrated as well. Did you know that today marks the 98th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War 1? That’s when we first started our November 11th celebration (called Armistice Day until 1954 when it was officially changed to Veteran’s Day, presumably to include all those who served in the second World War). It’s a day to honor all those men and women who have served their country as part of the armed forces. That’s a pretty worthwhile celebration. All those who have served deserve our gratitude and thanks. They sacrificed so much (even their own lives in some cases) to help preserve the liberty and freedom we all enjoy and that deserves to be honored.
I’ve never been to a cemetery on Veteran’s Day, but I discovered that they hand out American flags to anyone visiting the gravesite of a veteran (at least that’s what they do at the cemetery I went to). You could put the flag by the headstone of your loved one so it would fly in honor of their sacrifice. The cemetery I was at had a lot of World War 2 veterans buried there and the whole place was dotted with hundreds of American flags across its rolling hills all waving on this blustery day. It was kind of a neat to see that many flags waving throughout the landscape and it was also a reminder of how much military service was part of the generation that now rests in their final place.
I was there to see my Dad and my Uncle Charlie (Doc) who are both buried there. They are also both veterans. My Dad served in the Coast Guard right after high school. I always thought he was in the service during World War 2, but if I do the math, he would have only been 17 when the war ended. Still, I’m sure he was influenced by all those from his town that had served the military throughout the war and he was eager to join. His gravestone lists his rank (Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class) and I don’t think he ever told me what his rank was or what it meant. In fact, he never made much mention of the fact he was a veteran, although he was always proud of his time in the Coast Guard. I think it helped shape his life. I put the American flag by his headstone and I also brought along a mini Coast Guard flag which I put that in the ground too. I even gave him a salute (I’m not sure if I can salute someone as a civilian, but I did because it felt right). Thank you Dad for serving our country.
My uncle, Doc as most knew him, was only buried a few months ago. I always knew that Doc had served in the Army and that he was stationed in Guam. I always thought that he too served during the war, but the math still doesn’t work (and I realized for the first time that my Dad was about two weeks older than Doc). I remember a story about how he memorized the eye chart so he could pass his physical to get into the Army. He must have been eager to serve. Come to think of to, he was always serving his country as a soldier and then as part of local politics. I honored him today with an Army Flag alongside Old Glory and also gave him a salute. Thank you Uncle Charlie for all your service.
Both my Dad and my uncle were so much more to me than veterans, but it was part of their lives that I never really got the opportunity to talk with them about and to thank them for their service. I did that today and it was a good reminder to me about service to your country and to your fellow citizens (all citizens). That’s a good lesson to heed, especially these days.
All that saluting made me work up an appetite and because it was National Sundae Day, I decided to go have a sundae with my nephew Zack. I had texted him earlier to see if he was interested and he was, so I headed to his house. He had just gotten home from school so I caught him before he got involved in a video game or some other eighthgrader-type activity. We headed down the street from his house to a place called Sweet Claude’s which my sister said has the best hot fudge. It was a neat little ice cream shoppe in an old building with a cheery interior and a cheery staff to go along with that.
Zack is a chocolate guy, so he opted for chocolate ice cream with chocolate fudge and whipped cream. I went the chocolate chip ice cream with hot fudge and whipped cream route. We then sat down at a table and celebrated our treats. Zack had a big chocolate spot on his face about a minute into eating his and I didn’t tell him about it because I didn’t want to embarrass him. I still don’t know if I should have given him the heads up, but he didn’t seem too worried about it. We had very important conversations about video games and a few heated debates about the best superhero movies, but our conversation was still nice and lively. For Veterans Day at school, he had to play the Star Spangled Banner for different classes that were having assembly to mark the day (he’s a percussionist in the band), so he was wiped out. It was fun having him there to celebrate the day.
All in all, it was a pretty nice way to celebrate this day. I am still concerned about the current political climate and our future, but I needed a little break from it today and that came in the form of an eighth grader with chocolate on his chin and in watching a small American flag wave in the autumn sun at the headstone of two great men I have known. Service, sacrifice and chocolate. Maybe that will fix the world.
Next Up: National Pizza with the Works Except Anchovies Day