I swear I hate going to parades sometimes. Okay, I hate going to them every time. Mostly because I stand there making a fool out of myself. Without fail, marching bands make me tear up. I don’t know why. Then there is always some form of military representation in every parade I go to. But combine marching bands playing patriotic songs, the aforementioned military, and former POWs…and I’m a weepy mess.
This is one of my favorite songs paying tribute to our American soldiers. If you’ve never heard it, grab a hanky.
Sometimes I remember the year I didn’t go to the Veteran’s Day Parade. It had been a really long day, I was tired, it would take thirty minutes or so to drive to get to the location…and on top of all of that, it was cold.
So I stayed home, snug in my warm apartment…and I watched a tribute on a cable television station, from the comfort of my recliner.
During this program, there were pictures of soldiers far from home, enduring miserable, often dangerous conditions I couldn’t begin to fathom. Missing their families, with no option to say, I really don’t feel like doing this today, so I’m just going to kick back, get comfortable and relax.
Yup. There I sat, safe, warm, well fed…family no more than a phone call, or couple hours by car away. And I was seeing those photographs of men and women who chose to give up the comforts I was enjoying. Why? Well to protect me, and the rest of the people who also decided to blow off the one day that year when we had the privilege…and freedom…to go out there and show them that we supported and appreciated them.
I knew that night that I would never sit at home again if there was a Veteran’s Day parade within driving distance of where I happened to be on November 11th. If these people can give up so much of their lives for us, I can certainly give up a couple of hours of my time to give them the honor they deserve.
I’ll make sure I’m not too tired to drive wherever I have to go. And that I have a pocketful of tissues, because I know I’ll need them. I’ll be sure to dress appropriately for the weather, but I will be standing there on the curb as those who participate march by me.
Yeah, I’ll cry. My heart will break when the flag for the POWs comes into view, But I’m going to be there, and hope they understand how much I appreciate them when they see my tears. I can’t even write about this subject without them filling my eyes.
That’s how much they touch me. That’s how much I appreciate them and the sacrifices they make for me. Yeah, I know they sacrifice for you, too, but it feels personal. They make me feel safe.
Our soldiers aren’t the only heroes in our world though. I saw a video, and read an article about a high school football team that touched me deeply this week. These amazing young men took a fellow special needs classmate under their wing when they found out that she was the victim of bullies. Being the mother of an autistic son who also experienced bullying, it really hit home. I could feel this mother’s pain…and cheered for her daughter because those boys made her feel special…in a non-handicapped way. They changed her life, and instead of dreading it now, they have made her school experience something to look forward to.
There are so many heroes in our lives. People who maybe didn’t set out to be a defender or protector to someone in need, but nevertheless that’s exactly what they wound up being.
Do you know any heroes? Someone you’d like to give a heartfelt shout out to?
I’ve got two. My uncle, who served in special forces in Vietnam, and my oldest younger brother who was a volunteer fireman a decade or so, until he started a job that took him out of the area too much to participate.
We all have the potential to be a hero to someone. Try looking for opportunities wherever you may be. Just because you can’t go off to war, or put out raging fires doesn’t mean you can’t do something. Little things matter, too.