I haven’t written in a few months so you’d think I’ve been busy in the shop. I only wish that had been the case. In between illness and brutally cold temperatures, I’ve been suffering from the classic writer’s block. I wanted to write, I just couldn’t find the words to put onto the page. That was until this morning when I watched an inspiring PBS show, Craft in America. The title of this episode was “Service”. It dealt with the crafts of several veterans. There was a Marine veteran, of Desert Storm, and a Army veteran double-amputee, of the Iraq War, that made some outstanding pottery and ceramic pieces. There was a lady who made paper out of female veterans’ uniforms. This paper was then used to make a book of the individual’s story along with a paper doll of the veteran. It was truly an interesting way to share their story. But I think the best story was the last one. It told the story of the soldier whose job it is to repair and make new pieces of tack for the horses that pull the caisson that holds the flag-draped casket, of a veteran being interned at Arlington National Cemetery. Every piece had to be perfect both in appearance and for the comfort of the magnificent horses.
While Memorial Day is still 3 months away, I was struck by the gifts these veterans had bestowed on us. Not just their outstanding crafts, but their service and sacrifices that entailed. These men and women are truly the reason we remain a great nation, even with all of our faults. Freedom truly isn’t free. There is a cost and we need to remember it, ALWAYS.
While I never served, I was raised in a family that served and respected those who did. My maternal grandfather was a veteran of World War One. As he told me, he was a “Doughboy”. My father, father-in-law, and 4 uncles served in World War Two, 1 uncle in the Korean War, a brother-in-law that served in Vietnam and 3 nephews who served in peacetime. Of those in the family that went to war, no one really wanted to talk about their time there. One of my uncles served as a medic, on D-Day, at Omaha beach. The only thing he ever told me was that it wasn’t safe to being wearing that big, Red Cross on your helmet. It just gave the enemy something to aim at.
My family was from a small, rural community, in Central Missouri. I would often spend time in the summer there with my grandparents, on their farm. It was these times that I would accompany my grandfather as we prepared the small community cemetery, where my ancestors were buried, for Memorial Day or as he called it Decoration Day. We would walk the grounds with a large bundle of small, American flags. We would put one at the grave of each veteran. My grandfather knew where every flag went, even the ones that the markers were so old they were unreadable. I miss that time spent with my grandfather. I carried on the putting out of the flags for many years after my grandfather passed away. A few years back I finally made a list of the veterans buried in that small, rural cemetery and passed in on to the current caretakers. In that small place are veterans of the Blackhawk wars, the US Civil Wars, the Spanish-American Wars, WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s amazing that such a small community provided so many heroes.
So I close this post with a request: No matter what side of the political spectrum you are on. Please remember to thank a veteran for giving you that right. Because the alternative isn’t freedom, it’s tyranny. Thanks for the opportunity to speak my piece.