Friday, December 15, 2017
It was an amazing sight on Sunday evening, December 10, as the Wreaths Across America (WAA) convoy made their special visit in Windham.
|Windham prepares to greet the caravan|
I greeted the caravan at the rotary as police and emergency vehicles from various communities across the state escorted caravan down Route 202 and onto the high school campus. It was there that the procession was welcomed by over 500 individuals waving and saluting the volunteers and Gold Star families. I think it is safe to say that everyone present was deeply inspired by such a scene.
The ceremonies, hosted at the high school, included the placement of a wreath at the Veterans Memorial as well as a performance of Taps by two high school students. These events were just as moving. To honor those who have passed and served our Country in such a way created a sense of unity among all present.
As a result, I was baffled by a conversation I had recently with a friend. She wondered why so much time and money are spent on wreaths instead of helping the veterans who are still with us. “I personally think we need to be putting more into helping vets who are alive,” she said. She further explained her concern for veterans who are homeless and need food as well as medical and therapeutic support.
I didn’t know how to respond to her because, I suppose, there might be a bit of truth to that statement.
But then I recalled another conversation. Last year, I interviewed a few members of the caravan after they returned from Arlington and made a stop at Chutes for breakfast. During the interview I sat and spoke with a Korean War Veteran as we both enjoyed our eggs and bacon. During our conversation, tears welled in his eyes.
He stated he was disappointed that not enough money was raised to place wreaths for veterans in the Windham cemeteries that year. “It means so much to me,” he said, choking back tears. “It heals my heart to know that those who have given up their life are remembered and honored. For those of us who have seen and been in war, it’s really important that people don’t forget the lessons of war.”
So, for others who might wonder, laying wreaths at veterans’ graves provides the opportunity to not only fulfill the WAA mission to: “Remember, Honor and Teach” but it also provides a form of healing to the veterans who are living.
They need to know that following their life’s mission to protect their Country – was and is not in vain. We all prefer peace over war, so it takes bravery to follow such a calling. It is for this reason I bow before them - and place a wreath to honor the living veterans.
The Opportunity Alliance has openings for Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions in Cumberland, York and Oxford counties for adults 55 and over to make a difference in the lives of others while earning a little extra money. Foster Grandparents mentor and support academic achievement of children in schools. Senior Companions provide companionship, local transportation and respite to elders seeking to remain living in their homes.
Volunteers who commit to a minimum of 15 hours a week and whose income is below generous income guidelines receive a tax-free stipend, mileage reimbursement and other benefits including monthly training. To learn how you can help your community by joining either program call 207-773-0202 or write to email@example.com
Friday, December 8, 2017
I love Christmas time. The whole month of December, I anticipate the holidays like Ralphie in the movie “The Christmas Story” awaits his gift of an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Air Rifle.
It doesn’t take much for the seasonal spirit to grab hold of me as I take in the decorations, music and holiday parties. But there are those other more meaningful things that lift my spirit higher and move me in ways I can’t describe.
Many articles in this week’s publication are prime examples of that joyful and giving spirit of Christmas. Articles such as the Festival of Tree event at Windham Hill UCC, the Live Nativity Scene at Windham Christian Academy and the “Stuff the Bus” hosted by Windham Lions Club are all instances of the true meaning of Christmas in action.
The “true meaning of Christmas” is a sentence uttered often this time of year and, although individuals might differ slightly on the interpretation of the word “true”, most of us would agree that bringing love, peace and joy into the world would be a part of that definition.
One description from an 1889 article of The American Magazine explains the true meaning as this: "to give up one's very self - to think only of others - how to bring the greatest happiness to others - that is the true meaning of Christmas."
For the most part, I think we (all of us in America and beyond) understand this explanation and execute it well. That is, until January 1.
In this week’s On The Spot question, we asked our readers, “What do you wish you knew more about?” My response would be: I would like to know why love, joy, goodwill and generosity that we experience this time of year stop after the holidays.
I guess we will never know the answer, but the one thought that comes to mind is, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
I was hoping for an easier answer. I guess Gandhi’s wisdom imparted over 60 years ago still applies today when you wish things to be a certain way.
I’m not exactly sure I, alone, can carry out the lofty idealism of spreading joy and goodwill to all - all year long, but I can certainly try to do better than I did this past year. Instead of pointing out the fact that the true meaning of Christmas seems to stop when we hit the new year, I can be the one to make it continue. To the best of my ability. If I don’t do so well in 2018, maybe I’ll do slightly better the following year. But I might do better if you can join me.