Joined: 10 Aug 2005
Location: San Diego CA - deep in the heart of SoCal
|Posted: Mon 11/24/08 9:14 am Post subject: Honoring many among us
|I got to thinking a couple of weeks ago, since it was Veterans' Day, and I had already posted a thread about the holiday and its relationship to baseball and its players. Real life has a tendency to intrude on baseball, and I thought I'd give everyone the opportunity to post OT about our troops, as individuals or a unit, in honor of that day we set aside to acknowledge and express our gratefulness to them. Instead of just limiting it to one day, I decided to expand it to a year-round thread.
On November 11, I didn't have the day off work like most people, but left the office late in the afternoon, just in time to pay a visit to my dad's gravesite as shadows began falling. Dad was an Air Force veteran, Korean conflict era, and I'd just honored his memory the previous week on Dia De Los Muertos. But I also wanted to drive to downtown San Diego, where the annual Veterans' Day Parade took place earlier in the day. Until sunset, the "Arlington West" exhibit would honor the memories of those deceased in the current war in Iraq. "Arlington West" is organized by Veterans for Peace, which offers a cross in the sand for each life lost. It was quite moving as members of this veterans group took turns reading aloud the names of those who've perished so they will be remembered as individuals. Many family members of these same troops were present, too, and it was quite emotional for a lot of them. This took place alongside San Diego Harbor, immediately adjacent to the U.S.S. Midway Museum. There was also a Blood Drive in progress set up by the local blood bank on the pier. Fortunately for me, it had been exactly two months--to the date--since I'd donated at the September 11 Heroes Blood Drive, and after that amount of time one is eligible to donate again. You would not believe how many people connected with the military, both active duty and veterans alike, came up to thank the donors as they arrived. "Please pass the word," one said, "this is the best way you can honor us--by giving the gift of life!" He was an older gentleman, and you could see the gratitude in his eyes. After what he'd given, how could anyone not want to reciprocate?
Of course, there are so many other ways to give back, too. Last week, Operation Homefront in conjunction with one of our local sports talk stations held a food drive for military families who have husbands or wives deployed. Fortunately, it was very close to where I work, and I was able to spend some time visiting with people there during my lunch break.
As I've noted many times before on this message board, San Diego is a city steeped in military history. Most of you know I live and work in a neighborhood which borders on Miramar MCAS. But wherever you are around town, you can't escape the past or the present, as there are reminders at every turn of those who've served, and those who are still serving, as well as all the facilities in many parts of the region at which they receive training and learn specialized skills. Everyone knows someone, and in most cases many persons, in Iraq or Afghanistan.
So all of this weighs very heavily on my mind on a reglar basis. Whether they are families with a missing member, temporarily, or families with a missing member, permanently, it is a part of everyday life.
Southern California is also a region steeped in aviation and aeronautical history, and with Air Force Week events going on all around the area, it seems every college and professional sports team playing a home game in the region honored the USAF in some way, and there were special ceremonies held at the Ronald Reagan Library as well. Those things always make me think of my dad, too.
Which brings me to this: The branches of the military are only made up of individuals who've chosen to serve their country. You all know I've had three friends who've lost children in the war on terror, in this year alone. Beyond their losses, I've been collecting several unique and/or interesting stories related to many men and women who've served. They are about ordinary people who've been placed in extraordinary circumstances, whether in the current conflicts, or past ones. Some are uplifting, others not so much so. Does anyone else have any? I'm sure there are some here who do. I'd like to share, and hear from others if any of you choose to do so.
"The Dodgers have always occupied an enormous place in the history of the game. If the Yankees are the most successful team in baseball history, the Dodgers are the most essential. Their legacy is unique."
-Baseball Hall of Fame