High Desert Hangar Stories: On behalf of a grateful nation

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Veterans Day 2020 will definitely have a different feel to it this year, as the usual gatherings and ceremonies will be watered down or, in many cases, not happen at all — and that is a real tragedy.

We who will still remember and find a way to commemorate the service of those brave men and women in uniform past and present will, through many forms of communication, spread the word and raise a toast to those who answered the call of our nation, and do our best to see that they are not forgotten.

Forgotten: That word haunts me, given the calling that I have had for several years, of being a man who tells the stories of past generations.  It finds me worrying about future generations, who distance themselves from the history books, statues and ceremonies that past generations looked to for inspiration, to become better citizens for the nation they call home.

The citizen soldier: Dad or Mother, brother or sister, the boy or girl next door, or just a relative in the family tree who answered the call and in many cases went off to war and never came back or, if they did, carried the mental scars from the eyes that had seen more pain and suffering than a human being should have to experience.

On Veterans Day, veterans value the gathering of those around them, which helps to ease their sense loss and suffering as they remember those who served beside them. Our commemorations send a message that service to country comes at a very high price and to not take your freedoms for granted. Those who served saw firsthand how the defense of the nation and its Constitution is to not be taken lightly, or used for anything else but to serve the freedom-loving people of the world. That’s a lot to put on the backs of our men or women in uniform, but that’s why we honor and commemorate their service in this country, that understands the sacrifice.

A personal reflection I would like to share is the one I have been witness to many times over, in my years of being friends with so many veterans, and that is the inevitable graveside service and saying the final “goodbye” — that special aspect of the veterans’ memorial service, as the flag is folded and Taps is played. With the kneeling of a soldier in front of a family member, the words of grateful nation are spoken. Tears and trembling hands receive the flag that says your loved one was loved by so many more than just your family and we all feel your loss, and also kneel before you and mourn your loss.

That folded American flag makes it home with a special family member and usually sits in a place of honor. It is a constant reminder that America is watching over the family and will forever be grateful for your loved ones’ service and he or she will not be forgotten.

There is that word “forgotten” again. I hope and pray, as time and our nation move forward, that we do not replace the word “remember” with the word “forgotten.”  With the absence of traditional Veterans Day programs, and diminishing numbers of heartfelt citizens who understand the sacrifice and dedication, we must not end up like an old folded American flag, thrown in a closet.  We must not lose the story along with the family member, who would keep the service to country and the pride it brought at the forefront of our American journey.

Remember” this Veterans Day. Bring forth a renewed spirit in the absence of ceremony and make it your own personal outreach to inspire and educate those who may not ever get a chance to celebrate the service of a soldier. The greatness of our nation is and will be that we will not forget, but that we will all remember the citizen soldier for generations to come.

Peace my friends. Enjoy your Veterans Day and for now, Bob out …

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