A Band of Brothers...and One Sister

I attended the coolest event last week.  It was a celebration of WWII veterans who live at my parents' assisted living facility.   Most, if not all, of the residents at Southland are in the WWII age bracket, and for all the things they struggle to remember...they are very clear on their war experiences.

This event was hosted by a local hospice center in cooperation with the Veteran's Administration.  Two VA liaisons and former veterans themselves hosted the presentation.   They spoke briefly of their experiences in Afghanistan and the Gulf war and then opened the floor to the WWII vets to share whatever they wanted.

My dad was the first one on his unsteady feet.  He spent two years on the U.S.S. New York and was elated to attend the commissioning of the new U.S.S. New York ship in New York city a few years ago.  The new ship included 7.5 tons of steel from the rubble of the World Trade Center towers.

Dad with the commander of the new U.S.S. New York in '09

Dad shared a bit about being a medic and how important it was to him to be a part of the Navy at that time.  Another fellow spoke, and then another.  No one spoke very long, just a few words like:

"It was hard."

"I'm glad it's over."

"We won."

This generation of men is a stoic, non-whiny group.  They served because it was the right thing to do.  They didn't question it, and they didn't complain. 

The liaisons also honored the wives of the vets.  One wife spoke about how the military screened all the mail coming home at that time, and she used to get letters from her husband with sentences and words blacked out.  She pieced together the messages anyway.  She said she understood the bigger mission of protecting everyone involved. 

The most touching part of the event was when the liaisons asked if any women residents had been active duty.  My mom's thin, 92-year old hand rose.  The only one in the room.  She had served the Navy for two years in the field of intelligence.   She then added, "I was just a secretary, but our work was classified.  We knew where all the ships were."

She mentioned that one colleague, by mistake, had sent a message for several ships to return to Pearl Harbor.  She then shook her head, implying those ships were likely lost in the attack to come. 

It was quite a journey down memory lane for these veterans and the visitors listening.  We don't regularly think of the warriors who've fought before us unless we set aside time to do so.

Every veteran was given an American flag pin and a salute.  I was not fast enough with the camera to catch the salute given my father, but here are the liaisons honoring my mom.

 It made me well up.

Mom receives her pin.

More words of gratitude were given, and then a blessing was bestowed on those who served. 

My patriotic Dad

The WWII-ers with my handyman, who was career Air Force

It was all so touching.

And then, there was cake.

Love the image!

I'm a softie for veterans and dessert. 

Thanks to all who have served, or are serving.  I pray, when you are 80+, you, too, receive a salute and some cake.  It's the least we can do.


Blessed Serendipity said...

What a wonderful tribute to the men and women that served our country with pride and commitment. I can imagine how proud you must be of your family. Thanks so much for sharing this. We must never take our freedoms for granted.


renae said...

What a stirring post! I loved it. My parents were in that generation but they are both in heaven. They talked of the war often, even tho they neither one served. It effected the whole nation; rationing, limits on resources here so they could support the military there. There are other reasons Dad didn't serve but if there would have been one more draft, Dad would have been drafted.

I salute your sweet parents! You parents are darling!!!

Cranberry Morning said...

What a moving post! It made me well up just reading it. You are right, they were a stoic, non-complaining bunch, who were out to do the right thing. What an example they were and are to us today. And I hope we keep the memory of their service and sacrifice alive for generations to come.

Mari said...

What a touching post! I've always been patriotic and thankful for our vets, but since my son has been in the army and spent time in Afghanistan, I'm even more so. I know more now about what it means to serve.
I love that they did this for these vets!

Joanne said...

They were the greatest generation. Hardworking, loyal, took pride in their service to their country and were willing to die for it. They were definitely NOT the ME ME ME generation that we have now. God bless them all.
Blessings, Joanne

Juli said...

You made me well up, darn you!

How amazing that you are able to hear the stories, however stoic and un-whiny, so that you may pass them on. It's the stuff family history, america's history, is made of.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

How wonderful. If you haven't already read them, you might enjoy Tom Brokaw's books about WWII and the Greatest Generation... in their own words. I'm so glad your parents and the others were honored in such a way.

Marianne said...

This made me well up, too! What amazing parents! What a wonderful event. Please thank your mom and dad for me, too. I hope they got some extra cake - well-earned and they clearly deserve so much more.

Jaime said...

This is wonderful. I'm a softie for veterans as well. My husband and I are friends with a WWII vet who actually was in Hitler's house. He's almost 94 and is amazing. I wrote about him at http://awakeningsandreflections.blogspot.com/2011/07/beautiful-afternoon.html. Tell your mom and dad thanks for being so courageous.

Kenya G. Johnson said...

How sweet. I welled up too. I also love that image on the cake. I've seen that scene remade in the show Cold Case and it make me well up.

Thanks for sharing their story.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful tribute! I noticed dad had his USS New York shirt on. I love the pic on the cake. In between the danger and sacrifice, a little romance!

Michael Ann said...

Thank you so much for sharing this even with all of us, in words and photos. It choked me up too. My dad is career Army and a Vietnam Vet, and I am very proud of him. But I feel that same pride when I see these vets from WWII. The salutes they received put me over the edge. What an amazing thing to come and do for these men (and women!)!!!

Betsy Schow said...

Thank you. That's about all I can say. Thank you for the post and thank you to them, those who truly are the greatest generation

Happy@Home said...

What a lovely post this is, Mare.
How nice for the WWII veterans to be remembered and honored in this way. Your parents are so precious and I admit to welling up big time when I saw the photo of your mom being saluted. You are so right when you say this generation was stoic and non-whiny. We could all learn a lot from them. My dad served in WWII and rarely talked about it.
Thank you for your kind words on my recent posts. I was so sorry to read that you have lost your brother. I can only imagine how hard that must have been for your parents and you.

Dana said...

I'm welling up now, too. The pictures are so touching. What an amazing day that must have been for you!

Martha said...

How wonderful. This made my eyes water too, just beautiful!

Farida said...

You must be the proudest daughter as both your parents were receiving their pins... they are our heroes! This celebration is a remarkable one to also show the people's appreciation to everyone who contributed during WW2.

Hope you managed to record your Mom's voice too for a story book and thanks for sharing the photos. God bless your parents!

Marie said...

completely beautiful! you have me welling up as well. :)

Aneta said...

That was so sweet and touching. You must be so proud of your parents! It's so great that they were honored in that way.

Cecilia Marie Pulliam said...

What an inspiring post, Mare. And I agree, these brave men and women deserve the respect. I too salute our armed forces.

Lynn Proctor said...

what an amazing day that must have been--just lovely

Tamera Brose said...

Just reading this made me tear up.

Marianne (Mare) Baker Ball said...

thanks for all the kind comments here. it's so nice to read that so many people appreciate the military, especially the WWII-ers. We are losing them fast.

Kim said...

that is awesome! it is so good to see people remembering the older generation who fought and never complained. what a treat for you to see your parents honored!

Maryann said...

I think we have much to learn from that generation. my SIL lives in an Assisted living I noticed a gentleman one day who was wearing a WWII ball cap. It was near the D day anniversary so I decided to ask him some questions about that time. he talked about it as if it had happened yesterday. So glad to hear there are those that still pay tribute to those that sacrificed so much

Arlee Bird said...

Those vets are getting fewer and fewer. They deserve all the celebrating and honor we can give them.

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Empty Nest Insider said...

It's wonderful that your parents were able to be honored in this touching ceremony.. My dad served in the navy during the Korean War. This was beautifully written, and you should be very proud of your heroic parents. Julie

Emmy said...

How truly awesome! And yes they should be honored and remembered as they did an incredible thing.