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November 13
, 2011

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OpalToney7-24.jpg (37075 bytes)As I Was Saying
By Opal Toney

Things remembered...
Here I am at my window looking outside.
This year the school bus route is not on the road that goes by our house.
I kinda miss ‘em, if I was outside I would wave and the kids on the bus would wave back.
Right now I’m lookin’ at the beautiful pink moss. It’s the tall kind that I like. The other kind is spread out on the ground.
My Mama loves flowers and we looked forward for spring to come. There were trees of beautiful colors everywhere.
There was one thing we girls, and Mama, didn’t like at all.
My brother had a big Billy Goat. One of the things he liked to do was knock down anything he could, and if our brother was not around my sister and me were afraid to go outside.
When Mama walked out on the front porch, the first thing she saw was the big Four o’Clock plant with pretty little red blooms laying on the ground.
She grabbed her broom and here the goat went.
As I was saying, here I am at my window.

The Last Word:
My sister and I would yell and Mama would come with her broom. The goat would see the broom and take off running.
– O.T.

honeyandflag.jpg (61206 bytes)The View From Here
By Katherine Veno

Veteran's Day...
There is not a time we should not honor those men and women who have fought for our freedom. So many of them have paid with their own lives. They have spilled their blood on foreign shores, on grains of sand and in jungles. Their bodies have known pain, injury, and the beating of their own hearts.
We stop this weekend to honor our veterans and their service to our country. Freedom is not free, and with an enormous price tag, they have laid down their own lives before the great oppressors. Slain by the enemy, maimed and mauled as if by lions, they have selflessly gone into war, battle, prison, and death.
They have missed the first steps of a son or daughter because they were in battle to protect all of us. Their personal sacrifices are many, and their losses are great even if they return home to a place they have dreamed of living once again. The place is different and they are changed visibly, but most of the scars are not witnessed by human eyes, and can only be felt by their own hearts.
Through their eyes we can only imagine what they have seen or endured. If they show physical signs of war, we only see what remains. We do not feel their pain as they do.
For those who have lost a veteran, and fallen down into the depths in hollow, dark desolation, we must observe their pain and loss. Wives, husbands, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, end up without someone they loved to the fullest of their capacity. The folded flag, the medals of honor, sit cold and lifeless in a young widow’s hands as she watches her hopes and dreams vanish with the lowering of a casket.
As a pebble rings water, and as a bell tolls, their disaster propels them into a widening circle that touches so many lives and causes an unbelievable outpouring of love and compassion. They are left with no place to rest their eyes, and are engulfed in tragedy and wrapped in blankets of pain.
For us who did not take up the battle personally, we are so blessed. For all who are left behind, tomorrows keep coming. They walk a long and lonely road. Those left behind can choose to live with grief and die, or can get over grief and live. They are paying the price of our freedom with something far more precious than money. All they have left of those who served and died, are photographs in ever diminishing wisps of memory. What the rest of us have is the ultimate gift of freedom.

EmilyLundy4-2.jpg (36194 bytes)Escapades of Emily
By Emily Gail Lundy

Bring Johnny home...
“When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again, Hoorah, Hoorah...” is one of many wartime songs written through wars upon more wars as promised. This omen is even in the song with the words “Again.”
Hollywood has memorialized, satirized, criticized, immortalized wars in multiple ways. Poets have used “War” as a subject almost as much as “Love.”
American poet Stephen Crane, 1871-1900, wrote “War is Kind” then blasted the “kindness” in bitterness.
In an article somewhere, I read that one thing better since the “ 9-11” American experience is the way we treat our veterans and those on their way to being veterans.
Groups today send boxes abroad of items not found on the warfront. In airports like DFW, lines of ordinary and not so ordinary form an aisle for plane-departing soldiers to walk through on their way to board another plane. Cheers, tears, thank you’s, the waving of flags, even hugs salute these warriors from afar.
The few weddings I’ve seen with the groom in his dress uniform makes an impressive view. Men and women in uniform have long caught the eye of all ages of ordinary people.
But nothing equals the agony of the heart of the Mother who awaits at home, knowing her son or daughter stands in the path of death or devastating injury. Too many soldiers come home to be veterans who will never be the same, if not in body, then in mind.
America is doing better to help these families, but not enough. Those who come back in seemingly good shape don’t talk about what they have done or seen. War is not kind; it is Hell. When one of my heroic uncles died of old age, we had to find his medals in a lock box hidden under his house. He didn’t share much, except in the teaching of all the sky formations of stars to my brother and me.
Two visits to the Memorial Grounds in Washington D.C. haunt my soul.
Countless markers of dead soldiers closed the mouth for any remark or turned words into whispers. I’ll admit, upon first seeing the Vietnam Wall, it was not as I had pictured. It was not ornate, almost a large lowering in the ground.
Then I descended toward the corner bend. Suddenly as a visitor I was surrounded with name after name engraved in stone, in the order they met death. (A book on the premises alphabetizes names of the dead and gives location.)
Even regiments in foreign uniform knelt to find names. Hands pressed on depressed names. Silence griped the air. Other visitors traced names with thin paper and pencil.
This elaborate simplicity of “in memoriam” screams of war and all its faults. Too many names on that wall were my age as they fought, but they didn’t find everlasting love or hold a grandchild or see the Grand Canyon. The expression of walking on “holy ground” becomes reality in a cloak of genuine sadness and remorse and grief, the war where Americans shot the messenger as they returned home, great numbers of 19-year old kids when they left for the unknown. This war had children of the enemy used to blow up soldiers and themselves. No war is pretty, but modern conventions showed and delved into this one as never before. My life remained the same as I was juggling Motherhood with a career.
And on a sunny day, here I stood, at the Vietnam Wall, face to face with life and death, feeling a need to kneel and weep, wail, at one with eternity. I too had been naive, too long.
A man living in our community went to Vietnam for three missions, getting his orders changed the third time to take the place of his only brother, younger. “He won’t survive,” he pleaded. “He doesn’t know the jungle as I do.” This older brother came home to his family, not quite the same, and he talks often, explaining the count of bullets used from his gun as he slept, telling something else unbelievable, but for a long time, he could be watching any television show and tears would be flowing from his eyes, unaware. He limps, has a steel plate in one upper leg, but he walks with pride.
I am proud to be an American; I wish everyone living here truly was; I am not proud of my blase’ and sometimes forgetfulness of my brothers - the Veterans as wars continues.
Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2011.


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