I hope you’ll allow me to carry this Veterans Day thing forward an additional week. I’d like to do it without some kind of “every day is Veterans Day” sentiment which, while it might be true, might also be cliché, and I try to avoid cliché.
I knew there was going to be a second vet’s day column when I drove out to my grandson’s school for a commemorative event. It was in Dover, and they had it at the football field. Students of the school who had vets in the family were encouraged to invite us where we would sit in a place of honor out in the middle of the field (chairs were provided). Maybe, I don’t know, 30 of us were there.
The grandstands were full, students from preschool on up to senior, with the school band there. You can probably imagine the event: Patriotic songs and school groups, the band not in the least, participating at various levels. They even had the youngest students come out and do a choreographed dance while waving small American flags. This was actually quite endearing.
We vets were called upon by name, one at a time, along with the name of the student who invited us. A lot of guys about my age, a few guys older, a few guys younger. Stand up, applause, sit.
And let’s be clear: I’m a tough guy, solid as a rock this guy (hard as nails, etc.) (so much for cliché). But it got to the part where the trumpet player from the band stepped out and played Taps, then a recitation in memory of those killed in action / missing in action and it was … well there you go, I don’t want to say “Moving,” I’m a tough guy after all, but at the very least striking, it was striking.
I was friends with a guy in the service, I mentioned him last week as I have every Veterans Day, by the name of Chivaletti. He was killed, with 14 days left on his hitch, when were in a collision at sea one night.
He wasn’t the only person I knew who died while in the service, he wasn’t the only one who suffered in the sort of mishap you have in and around military machines and operations, but he was a great guy, with a great sense of humor and his loss hurt. It hurt at the time, it hurts now to talk about it.
And the trumpet player’s out there playing Taps and I can’t help but think how Chevy (that was his nickname, “Chevy”) would not be there to see preschoolers do a flag dance, or hear the band’s trumpet player play Taps.
And I felt his loss all over again.
Oh, don’t worry, I’m a tough guy so you couldn’t tell to look at me, but my insides got soft for a minute.
Afterwards hung out with grandson for a couple minutes before he had to get back to class. Always a joy.
I took the long way from Dover to Clinton when I left: Two lanes, some of it gravel. It was a beautiful day and the fall colors were really enjoyable. Sometimes you need to do that, clear your head.
You get older and you appreciate things like that.