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It was a beautiful spring day with blue sky, high fluffy clouds and temperatures in the mid
seventies.  We walked from the Metro station down the mall around the Washington
Monument to the WWII Memorial.  

As we wheeled Dad to the front of the memorial, we stopped at the entrance and took
pictures.
 I’d seen pictures of the monument but it was much grander and more
beautiful those pictures.
 I truly believe it is the most beautiful memorial on the
Mall, but the beauty of the memorial was nothing compared to the experience
we had that day.

When my family of 10, two living parent’s, five sister’s and two brothers started walking in,
we immediately saw another family with their father who was also a WWII veteran.  
Dad talked with the other veteran, who was also in a wheelchair, while Mom and the rest of
us talked with his family.  It was almost instant kinship, as we shared respect for our
fathers.  

We were kindred spirits-so to speak- with a shared respect for our hero Dads
that are still here with us as well as the memorial around us that was a
reminder of those that are no longer here.    
Our visit to Arlington Cemetery may have triggered some memories for Dad.  
As we wheeled Dad in a borrowed wheelchair, to the main part of the cemetery, Dad was
saluted by one then another man jogging by in their gray t-shirts with ARMY in bold letters
on the front.  

It was a profound moment that took me away from admiring the park and out of my
“vacation mode” and put me in a place where I realized, here among headstones and
markers of death,
my father was a living reminder of those that survived this war and went on to become what
Tom Brokaw has called The Greatest Generation.  

In his book Tom Brokaw said; “In WWII more then 292,000 Americans were killed in battle
and more them
17 million returned home physically affected in some way…battle
scarred and exhausted, but oh so happy and relieved to be home.  They had
survived an extraordinary ordeal, but now they were eager to reclaim their
ordinary lives of work, family, church and community.  

The war had taught them what mattered most in the lives they wanted now to
settle down and live.”

Before this trip I admired my dad and respected the fact that he came back from a war,
married, fathered eight children and has stayed married to the same women for 58 years,
but I didn’t think of him very often as a soldier or a man that risked his life to save another.  

The next morning we left early to go to the WWII memorial.  
It was the main reason we came and an experience that had an impact on me and my
family and helped us appreciate our Dad’s and other veteran’s service and sacrifices.    
Arlington National Cemetery.  In Honor of Veterans Day
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HouseWifeMafia.com ~ The eMagazine For Women
TRAVEL

Visit Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia

A Salute to an Old Soldier
by Pat Edmondson
Our flight arrived early in the morning at Reagan airport in Washington DC.  
After we stored our luggage at the hotel and ate breakfast we decided to visit the Arlington
National Cemetery.  Our hotel was in Arlington VA, so it was a quick Metro ride
over to the cemetery.   

This is when I knew this vacation would be different from most and have a
profound impact on my father and my family.
 Dad is an 82 year old WWII veteran and
was easy to identify as such.  He had on a Jacket with “WWII Veteran” embroidered on the front
and was wearing a hat that said WWII Veteran-Battle of the Bulge.   
Almost as soon as Dad sat down on the Metro, a Marine in uniform standing across the aisle
reached over and shook my Dad’s hand and thanked him for what he had done for our
country.  Then a “civilian” dressed in khaki shorts and a Hawaiian print shirt got up from his
seat a couple of rows back and also shook my Dad’s hand.  

I fought back tears watching the man I love get the respect
we as a family have often taken for granted.  

This trip helped me realize the impact my father’s service had on my life and the life’s of
others by renewing my respect and admiration for him and other veterans, by helping me
appreciate his and others service and sacrifices and reminding me to appreciate
and acknowledge my dad’s contributions in a war that has come to be known as the greatest
World War.

When we were young, my father didn’t talk about the war much.  
It has only been in the past few years that Dad has told us some of the things he did and saw
in his time in the Atlantic theatre stationed in Paris, France and later Germany.   
I think the talk of finally building a WWII memorial and movies like Saving Private Ryan and
Band of Brothers have triggered memories long suppressed.  

Dad wouldn’t watch too many war movies and always said the war was
not how Hollywood showed it in the 50’s and 60’s.  
That was about all he’d say.  I don’t think I or my brothers and sisters realized
the impact my father’s service had on my life or the life’s of others.  
This trip renewed my respect and admiration for him and other veterans.   
As we were talking two more veterans came up.  They shared stories of where they were
stationed and some of their experiences.  

The old vets shook hands and the other families all thanked our Dad.  We thanked the other
vets too.   As we moved around the memorial other people, young and old alike would
come up and shake Dad’s hand and thank him.  

President George W. Bush, speaking at a Veterans Day prayer breakfast said,
“And in a time of war, we look a little differently at our veterans, too.  We pay
tributes…and they're made with a little greater feeling, because Americans
have seen the terrible harm that an enemy can inflict.  And it has left us deeply
grateful for the men and women who rise strongly in the defense of our nation.”

As we left the WWII memorial we walked back up the mall and visited the Holocaust
Memorial Museum.   
A stark and sad reminder of why my father had been drafted
into service so many years ago
.   It was another reminder of the contributions made by
my Dad and other veterans.     
The grim setting of the museum was almost too much for our family after the
emotional morning.  We wanted to rush through it and avoid the unpleasant
reality of the reason for the war and the senseless deaths of so many men,
women and children.   We made ourselves take the tour to remember why we
must never forget how bigotry, brainwashing, propaganda and ignorance can
cause so much heartache and death.  

Dad said he didn’t really enjoy it because he lived it.  
It was good, albeit sad, that we all saw what he experienced.  It made me again appreciate
the sacrifices he and others made.   

New Jersey congressmen Rodney Frelinghuysen said;

“As we honor our hero soldiers…
we will not forget that freedom is not free.
It is worth fighting for, and those who fought
will be remembered and honored forever.  
Tragically, more than 1,500 WWII veterans die every day.
Those who fought…throughout WWII may be fewer and grayer
and a little bit slower, but they remain a part of America s greatest generation.”

Our family planned this trip last summer, but Dad’s sudden health problems last year
caused us to postpone the trip until this spring.   

Don’t wait until it’s too late for your dad, mom, grandfather, grandmother, uncle, aunt or
anyone you know.   Many WWII veterans are dying daily.

If we don’t capture their stories and honor their accomplishments they will be lost forever.   

If you know a WWII veteran, plan a trip to Washington DC soon.  
Pay your respects, before it’s too late, to the man or women that
served our nation in the greatest world war ever.  

Thank a veteran for their service before you’re standing in a cemetery looking at a freshly
carved headstone wishing you’d said, “Thank you.” when that veteran was alive.
Tell them you appreciate their service and sacrifices; give them the honor, respect and
admiration they deserve.  

I know my family will never again take for granted what
my father did for his country and our family.  
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