I really didn't want to go. It was overcast and looked like rain. The Man was at work and I had to head to work for a night shift in a few hours.
It just wasn't convenient to load up Little Man, muscle through traffic, lug our blankets and snacks, and hope that I could keep him contained without a meltdown.
But it was so worth it. Little Man and I spent a great morning at Milwaukee's Veterans Day Parade and Day of Honor celebration today. The parade was really long--it lasted nearly two hours! Shockingly, he sat captivated through almost all of it.
We waved our flags as the legion of Harley-Davidsons rolled by. We clapped to the cadence of the military marching bands. We waved at the veterans as they marched or rode by. And once in a while, Little Man was treated to a shower of candy or beads which he thought was the bee's knees.
I pointed out the different branches of the armed forces that we saw:
When the Marines came by, I told him that Papa (my dad) was a Marine, serving in Vietnam.
When the Army rolled past, I told him about his great-uncle.
When the Air Force unit passed, I told him about his cousin.
When a replica Navy jet and submarine floated by, I told him about his father, his father's father, and his three great-grandfather's who all served.
It was so worth the effort! So, today, I am thankful to our family members who have served in the military. And grateful that I was able to share a special morning with Little Man, watching one of America's newest citizens wave a flag to honor the brave men and women of his new country.
One last thing...across the corner from where we sat were two women. They held small signs, the photo of a young man on them, one of them holding a pair of military boots. The women stood, heads close to one another and shoulders touching.
From their body language, I was pretty sure what happened to the handsome young man on their signs. When I got home I looked up his name--Pfc. Andrew Halverson, Marines. He died on October 9, 2004 in Al Anbar, Iraq, one day before his 20th birthday. The two women were his mother and sister, and my heart breaks to think of the pain they must feel to have lost their son and brother. And to think of that pain, multiplied by thousands of families across the country....it's unbearable.
On the freedomremembered.com site, you can read more about PFC Halverson, but what really touched me was the printing of a poem that he wrote, which contains these lines:
"....And everyday God knows I have my doubts
Not understanding what's this all about
To help a people who don't want me in their land
And I know they wish I'd lay forever in this sand
The twisted grin on their face as they hide in the dark
And I can only pray God don't let me miss my mark
I am the few the proud a Marine
Yet all my accomplishments my loved ones have never seen..."
Please go to his site and read the rest of this really powerful poem.
And don't forget to thank a veteran for his service.