Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day: A Hero's Farewell

Today is Veteran's Day, and I would like to extend a thank you to all of the veterans out there, and remember two in particular. My dad, who passed away almost nine years ago at the age of 87, was a World War II veteran. His younger brother, my Uncle Joe, also served in World War II, but until he died this year in January at the age of 90, was a living reminder that our freedom isn't free. He was shot in the head and spent the past 60+ years in the care of the U.S. Veteran's Administration, primarily at the VA hospital in Lyons, New Jersey. Despite the fact that Uncle Joe enlisted in the army to serve his country instead of going to the University of Alabama on a baseball scholarship, he never seemed bitter about his incredible sacrifice.

My sister made arrangements for a true veteran's burial at Arlington National Cemetery, so Rex, London, Maddie and I made our first family trip to Washington, DC for the 4th of July weekend. We watched the fireworks from our room at the J.W. Marriott and spent a couple of days with London and Maddie discovering the nation's capitol in 100-degree heat...the monuments, the museums, a little bit of art and history.
The most memorable part of our trip was the incredible memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery when we said goodbye to Uncle Joe one last time.
I'm grateful that we had the chance to pay loving tribute to a great man with a ceremony with full military honors, complete with a horse-drawn caisson, marching band, bugler and gun salute he deserved.