Saturday, November 11 is Veterans Day and I have been trying to think of a way I could personally honor someone special who has served their country.
First and foremost, I publicly thank all veterans and encourage those who can, to attend the Veterans Day event at the Windham Veterans Center this Saturday.
What’s that one small but meaningful step I can take? I’ve been scratching my head for a while now. “Something personal and real”, I tell myself.
I thought of my own father who served in World War II and was stationed in England.
He had some stories he shared with me when I was too young to appreciate his experiences. I wish he was still alive so I could hear more about that part of his life. I suspect I would be more attentive with my now adult and understanding ears, taking in his experiences with more depth.
This brought me to my oldest brother who was drafted during the Vietnam War. “Luckily”, he was stationed in both Germany and Korea during the conflict. But, this is all I know.
And, thus, my answer to do something authentic and personal came to me - call my brother.
There are 15 years between the two of us and he was drafted into the Army (Was it the Army? I don’t even know which branch he enlisted in.) when I was only three years old. At that time, I only knew about this older sibling because my Mom would talk about him with concern and cry every time she received his letters.
The first time I “saw” him was when he came home to visit. I had chickenpox and could not go to the airport with my parents and other brothers to greet the young soldier in our family.
When my parents returned with my clean-shaven brother in tow, a cousin who stayed with me said, “Your brother is here. Do you want to see him?”
She pulled up a chair to the kitchen window, so I could watch him walk up the sidewalk towards the house. “Oh! So that’s what he looks like,” was my first thought upon seeing him.
Today, forty-seven years later, I feel like that child again. It’s true that I now know what my oldest brother looks like and we talk, but never about his experiences, fears, etc. regarding his draft into the war. Lucky for me he is still alive to ask him, to talk with him and thank him - which I have never done.
So, on Saturday I will call my brother who lives in Kansas - to know him and to see him again for the very first time.