To the Editor:
On a beautiful fall day I attended yet another Veterans Day memorial celebration, this time at the Green in Oakville. We all sang “The National Anthem.” (More singing and sing alongs would be better; less speechifying.) Most of the program was the typical speeches.
Although it is an honor to have our elected politicians notice us by being present and speaking, my experience last Thursday was one that was more meaningful and heartfelt.
Taking photographs of the event, I was trying to get a good angle. I moved close to a group of seated vets, they asked me to have a seat and we struck up a conversation about their service.
Vietnam, amphibious landing in North Vietnam, 1963(?), friend killed, “you know we used to play war as children...”
Tears in our eyes, I changed the subject.
“My nephew’s deployed in Djibouti,” I said. He asked, “Where’s that?”
“Africa,” I replied.
“Ya gotta have a sense of humor.” And we returned to smiling.
These are the stories we need to hear. The vets who didn’t get a hero’s welcome due to the tumultuous times.
The vets who suffered in silence. The vets who were unable, unwilling, unwanted, need a platform where they can be honored, where we all can learn of their service and we can give them the welcome home they deserve.
So I propose that at the next Veterans Day memorial we allow the vets to speak at the podium of their experiences. And if they cannot speak, have them stand or sit at the podium.
Let a high school or middle school student read their prepared speech.
Thank you to the Navy vets who spoke and shared with me at the Oakville Green. You made my Veterans Day memorable.