Why Bother To Honor Veterans Day?

Why Bother To Honor Veterans Day?

On November 11, my fourth grade class presented a Veterans Day program. Our music teacher worked hard to bring a harmonious sound to the voices of my fourth grade students. In the classroom each morning, I practiced the songs, God Bless America, The Star Spangled Banner, and My Country Tis of Thee to help prepare them for their performance. I never grew tired of singing these songs with my students, and I was proud of them for how they stood erect and respectful before the American flag for the few minutes it took to sing these patriotic songs every morning.  

Then, the day of their performance arrived and they were excited and nervous as they filed up onto the stage. But, looking out at their audience, they became serious. Their parents, some who are veterans, were there to watch them, along with a few guest veterans, some grandparents and siblings. When they began singing though, their voices were clear and their smiling and enthusiastic faces captivated all of us. I was proud.

After the performance, I shook hands with some of the veterans and heard portions of their stories. One man in particular, courageously shared how, even though he is home from Afghanistan, settling back into life as a civilian has not been an easy transition. As a combat soldier, he told me, receiving certain training to perform missions is not something you can use once you are home and the memories of what you encountered in battle are not easily forgotten. 

In a way, I thought, some of our veterans fight more than one war. They return home from one, only to continue another battle within themselves. I will never know what it is like to be a soldier, but I am grateful for the soldiers who fought to maintain the sweet land of liberty in which we live.

Then, driving home from work, and traveling down the main street of our town, I was saddened by the scarcity of American Flags flown by our local businesses. Not everyone had the colors flying and I wondered why. After all the servicemen and women have done for us, it would seem there should be no reason to remember and respect them by flying the flag. 

Why bother to honor Veterans Day? It is worth it to honor our veterans by flying the American flag. After all, even fourth graders know that is the right thing to do. 

Why Bother to Pay Tribute to Your Mother-in-Law?

 Why Bother to Pay Tribute to Your Mother-In-Law?

Monday morning, February 1, 2021, my mother-in-law, Berniece, took her last breath here on Earth and her first breath in Heaven. She was ninety some years old and I knew her as my mom-in-law for forty of those years. 

Remembering Her

I grin remembering her smile, her laughter, her voice when she sang, her compact physique, her authenticity, and faith.  She was a prayerful and practical woman who lived a common ordinary life with joy, the acceptance of others, and enough patience to get along with most everybody. She grew up as the eldest of six, birthed three sons, and widowed twice. 

 I loved hearing her laughter. It came easily especially when one of her brothers told some family story with enhanced details. I’d watch Berniece listening attentively, then observe how her smile grew wider with each exaggerated part of the tale. Then her laughter would bubble forth accompanied by tears streaming down her face. Sometimes, she’d laugh so hard that she had to hang onto her stomach with one hand while wiping tears away with the other.  

I remember her compact physique and how she liked putting on tennis shoes and going out for walks. Her hands though small, were strong. She held mine steady the time we prayed together for my prodigal and again when we cried together over the loss of one of my babies.  

Berniece was at home in any kitchen and we worked beside each other more than once or twice preparing or cleaning up after a meal. She peeled potatoes faster than me, knew how to flute a pie crust perfectly, and while washing dishes, always had a good visit with the grandchild who’d been assigned as the dish dryer. 

Her and her siblings were a close knit group. The first time I attended a family reunion I tried hard to learn the names of the slew of relatives who’d gathered down by a river, cooked over campfires and competed seriously in horseshoes. Though I learned the names of her brothers, sisters and their spouses, that was as far as I got. There were too many cousins and nieces and nephews for me to keep them all straight. 

At that particular family reunion, I heard my mom-in-law sing for the first time with her five siblings. The sound of their harmony echoed off the canyon wall and filled the air with the most beautiful sound.  

 Berniece no longer lives on Earth, but she has left remnants of herself in the numerous  grandchildren and great grandchildren whose names are numerous for me to remember. But when I see them, I know some of them will remind me of Berniecs’s smile, her laughter, her voice, her authenticity, and her perseverance with faith. 

Why bother to pay tribute to your mother-in-law?  It is worth it to honor those people whose lives, though ordinary, impacted yours with their joy, acceptance and enough patience to get along with most everybody. She was definitely one of those people.