Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day 2011

Yesterday I had the privilege of going to Monkey’s school for their Veterans Day assembly. Of course, you may recall me telling you on Wednesday that he was going to sing a solo at the assembly. Titan and I were very excited about it and made plans for both of us to attend. When the news made it to Titan’s mom and stepdad, they decided to also drive out for Monkey’s big debut. That was all Monkey could talk about the night before!

Monkey’s song was first and it began with his solo. I think my mouth was open because I could barely believe my ears. He did such a great job! He was even in tune the whole time, which is not an easy feat for a child. My little boy can sing!
Monkey is very touchy when it comes to singing. He cannot bring himself to sing in front of us here at home. He will literally start to cry if you attempt to coax him to sing. The most he can bring himself to do is whisper the words when you are not looking at him. I’m not sure why he is so shy about it, but we try to respect that. We certainly don’t want to create anxiety for him over something he enjoys in his own way.
Getting the chance to hear him sing his solo was a treasured moment. My heart was swollen with pride because I am a former singer. He was so good that I had a hard time holding back my tears of happiness. Music used to be my life, so to know that he also has a gift for music is a wonderful feeling.
The third graders sang another song and then they invited a soldier to speak for a few minutes. After that, the mood changed considerably when a special video presentation was shared. It started with a surprise video for two of the students. Their dad, who is currently stationed in Afghanistan, sent them a special message. You could hear them crying and we all shared in the joy and heartbreak of that moment.
After that, we got to watch a video slideshow of past and present military members who are related to the students and staff at the elementary school. There were some wonderful songs playing in the background as we watched picture after picture. It was neat to see who they were related to. There were small audio clips peppered throughout the presentation from students talking about what it meant to have family members serving in the military. Hearing those young voices speak about their family was very touching.
I was seated close to a mother who was in the audience holding her baby. She was wearing a t-shirt with the name of her late husband and his rank on it. At one point, she had to leave the room because she was overcome with emotion.
As the pictures continued to flash onto the screen, you could hear the stifled emotion throughout the room. In front of me a teacher hugged and comforted a girl who was crying. Another teacher helped to escort a young gal from the room when she, too, began sobbing. Everyone in the room had been brought to tears by the end of the presentation. It was impossible not to be moved by the experience.
I live in a military town and I know lots of military families. A sizeable portion of students in the school have parents or close relatives serving in the armed forces. These children know what it is like to live without their mom or their dad while they are deployed overseas. I know I cannot ever really understand the sacrifice each of those family members makes.
My dad was in the army during the Vietnam War. He should have died 4 different times, but God spared him. I am grateful for that, because had he given the ultimate sacrifice for his county, I would never have been born and never gotten to know the great man that I call my dad. My brother also served, and I am thankful that his service was not during a time of war. I never had to feel that worry first hand.      
The assembly was a beautiful tribute to our veterans. It is hard to imagine how many people serve, but seeing image after image after image really brought that point home. I can honestly say that I have never seen so many people with tears in their eyes in one place before and it was incredibly moving. It is not something I will soon forget.
God bless our troops – past, present and future.

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