Since one of my days to blog here each month is the 11th, when the 11th comes around in September, I make it a point to honor our country and its heroes. Because...on September 11, 2001 our country and its heroes...well...you know.
For the past few days, I'd been thinking how to change it up, if you will, to make my annual tribute a little different.
Then something wonderful happened. Problem solved. You could even say this column was pretty much written for me.
A few nights ago, like many others here in middle America, my husband and I went to our local high school football game. The grandsons were to perform at half time, so of course, we couldn't miss it. We soon learned more would go on at half time. A Blackhawk helicopter was scheduled to arrive. As a bonus, piloted by one of our own, a high school alum. Double bonus...a She! Plus, all veterans would be honored for their service.This would definitely be an inspiring night. I just knew it.
As we entered the gate to pay our admission, veterans were asked to identify themselves and their branch of service. A Vietnam era veteran, my husband complied, and we proceeded to our seats. The National Anthem played. Everyone in the stadium stood to face the American flag with hands over hearts.
Several punts, kicks, rushes, passes, runs up the middle, and first downs later, the home team was ahead by one. Then came the two minute warning. Over the loud speaker, all veterans were asked to gather at one end of the field. In white jackets and black pants, shakos and plumes, with instruments shined, tuned and ready, the band marched onto the field. High stepping and playing in precise formation, the brass, wind and rhythm sections belted out the evening's selection of songs.
The crowd came to their feet as the music faded. Our veterans walked on to the field amid cheers and applause and whistles. One by one these brave men and women were recognized for their service, their sacrifice, their dedication to our country, their protection of our way of life. Especially sweet was the extra applause those Vietnam veterans received.
A medly of military songs, again courtesy of the band, followed. The crowd applauded again. As instructed, the veterans lined up for a picture, band members came to stand behind them. Our home team football players filled in behind the band on the right. The opposing team members walked across the field to fill in behind the band on the left. A united crowd continued to applaud and cheer. Patriotism was alive and well and thriving.
The idea 'It doesn't get much better than this' ran through my mind. A group picture was taken. Those on the field began to disperse. Time to settle in for the second half. The football players lined up on one side, the field side. After all, they had a game to finish. The veterans lined up on the other side to return to their seats.
Then something very special happened...
One by one by one by one, these young football players, men in progress you could say, took it upon themselves to shake hands with each and every one of those veterans as they passed by. While I write this, I have goose bumps on my arms, a lump in my throat, and tears in my eyes. Middle America at its finest. I, for one, am so proud to be a part of it.
Always remember and never forget...
They do what they do, so we can do what we do.
My days to blog here are the 11th and 23rd. I can also be found at my WEBSITE