Monday, November 12, 2007

Veterans' Day

The past few years I have attended the Fullerton Veterans' Day Parade. The city council, ROTC units, the Fullerton High School marching band, police, firemen, and of course veterans walk down Chapman Ave. about a quarter mile to the Hillcrest Park War Memorial. A service is held there every year and some elite member of the armed forces comes and speaks. Then, as a lone trumpeter plays "Taps", a wreath of flowers is laid at the base of a monument bearing the names of Fullerton residents who have lost their lives while in the service of their country. There are names from every major war from the 19th and 20th century. Today I took both of my (sick) children to watch the procession. I can't describe how overwhelmingly emotional I get as I see the elderly gentlemen proudly wearing hats commemorating their service. The men and women in the parade vary in every way imaginable. Some were white-haired and could hardly shuffle down the street, some were unshaven with long gray hair, and some were young in new uniforms. It was easy to distinguish who fought in which war. Those who wanted to participate in the parade but were unable to do so because of age or injury rode in army Humvee's. Halfway through the precession two P-51 Mustangs flew over the route leaving trails of white smoke.

There were many veterans that lined the street in wheelchairs and the soldiers marching in the parade would stop and salute them and then shake their hand. We sat next to one such gentleman. He was a WWII veteran who sat in a wheelchair that was being pushed by his daughter. As he saluted those marching by, tears poured down his face and by the end he was openly weeping as his daughter hugged him around his shoulders. After watching a few hours of the PBS documentary called The War I could not help but think of the the atrocities that he witnessed and the friends that he lost.

I am so thankful for our country and our Constitution. I believe that freedom is a gift from God, not a privilege granted by a government. I hope that one day all people will be able to enjoy the freedoms that I often take for granted.


Lisa said...

Thank you for your tribute, Caitlin, it was beautifully written. I hope we can all remember the sacrifices that so many have made in order to keep our country free. We are truly blessed.

Anonymous said...

Very touching.

Kimberly Bluestocking said...

Thanks for sharing this. I know as a returned missionary I feel an instant kinship to anyone serving or preparing for a mission. I'm sure military veterans feel a similar bond.

Bluebell said...

Wow, thank you for posting that, Caitlin, it really touched me. Veteran's Day became a topic in Primary on Sunday at the end of closing exercises. There is a woman in our ward with six boys, ages 9 or 10 down to less than one, and her husband is currently in Iraq. I think sometimes it's easy to forget to be grateful for their sacrifices.