Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"Thank You Soldiers"

When I was 18, I went to the Pearl Harbor Memorial with my Dad in Hawaii. I remember watching a black and white video of boys who were my age, soldiers who lost their lives fighting for mine. The movie was unarguably impactful, but seeing that movie wasn’t what taught me the most about veterans. It was watching my dad watch the movie. Tears streamed down his cheeks at that time and again later when he stood reverently at the memorial. His respect taught me their sacrifice.

I ...had the opportunity this Veterans Day to attend Valley View Elementary School’s play titled, “The Candy Bomber.” The play centers around Gail Halvorson, the American soldier who dropped candy, tied to parachutes, from his airplane to the children of West Berlin during World War II.
I was not prepared for the emotion the play brought to my heart as it did to all those in attendance. The story of Gail Halvorsen is wonderful, but this was more than that. It was seeing children under the age of 11 understanding, watching and acting out what it means to be free and what one person can do to change the course of history.

There were veterans in attendance at the play. At one point the cast sang the song, “Thank you soldiers” to those veterans. One was a 95-year-old man and one of six brothers to serve during World War II. Four of his brothers returned; one did not. Neither I nor others could stop the tears rolling down our cheeks when during the chorus of that particular song, the entire student body of grade school children joined in singing with the cast.

I am so grateful to those who take the time to teach my children the importance of Veterans Day and other holidays that honor our soldiers.

It was the perfect way to celebrate Veterans Day with the best yet to come. At the close of school, Valley View Elementary had a mock fire drill. The children went outside to the upper field where they lined up. Suddenly, the sound of a helicopter was heard and the children looked to the sky. It hovered just above the field. The children’s confused faces changed to huge grins as parachutes started to fall from the sky. Shouts and laughter erupted as the children spontaneously ran to the center of the field, their hands held high above their heads. Some of them sang the words “drop it here, drop it here” from one of their play’s songs “Dear Chocolate Pilot.” Once again the emotion welled inside me as I imagined this same scene playing out some 70 years previously to the very children these kids had just portrayed.

And like my own father had once done while I stood by his side watching, I stood holding the hand of my son with a smile on my face, tears in my eyes and a reverence in my heart for those veterans whose selflessness and kindness ended a war and bought our freedom.

Thank you.

Monday, November 3, 2014

This is an article I was privileged to write about my cousin's sweet wife and his son. 
My latest article