Elementary school assemblies can reduce me to tears. That was the case at this week’s veteran’s day celebration. 900 flag-holding kids gathered outside my son’s school to honor the hand full of veterans/grandparents in attendance. Naturally, the kids aren’t old enough yet to really ‘get it.’ We don’t live in a military town so most of these students don’t have personal experience with the absence of a military parent. It is a blissful ingnorance I wish for all children.
The weight of the occasion was not missed by the adult visitors that day. As our little celebration got started, a Jr. ROTC group from a local high school marched in with the American and Texas flags. Their precision was flawless. A hush fell across the sea of young faces. Then something remarkable happened. The skies opened with a gentle rain. Not the kind of rain that would send people running for cover. The Fall shower fell as softly as a whisper. It was as if tears were falling from heaven.
I was frozen. Suddenly, I recalled photos of the uniformed men I love; my father, my oldest brother, my father-in-law. Then I thought of my own two sons and I shuddered as ‘what ifs’ bounced around my imagination. I glanced again at the tear-soaked faces of the weathered gentlemen gazing at the flag. What they were thinking at that moment? What pain they were feeling? What nightmares were they faced with?
900 young voices soon rose to sing the Star Spangled Banner. Everyone over the age of 30 teared up. The rain continued, but I didn’t notice. Announcements were made and thank you’s were extended. The color guard retreated. Then the rain stopped. Just like that. The clouds parted and allowed the slimmest ray of sunlight to pierce center of our arena, directly in front of our guests of honor. It was like one of those stage plays with dramatic lighting effects. This was as surreal a moment as I can imagine. And a fitting way to say thank you to our veterans.
On another note, Election Day——-
A week ago, my 18 year old son drove the four-hour roundtrip home from college just to vote. I was anxious to go with him, not that he needed my help in any way. My oldest son is the most informed young man I know where politics and government is concerned. He passionate. No, I wanted to be with him because it is yet another momentous occasion and I wasn’t about to miss it. He had been counting the days til he could cast his first vote. How fortunate that the year of his 18th birthday is an election year.
This was another moment that, as a mother, I wanted to freeze. With his each step toward the voting booth I was taken back to every other ‘first’ in his life. You know, that first smile, first step, first giggle, first day of school and on and on and on. I was one proud mama. This has been quite a year of change for my son. High school graduation and a move to college. His eight-year- old brother followed me into a booth far enough away to let the independence of my first-born grow another wing.
As I explained the voting process with my youngest child, it ocurred to me that this was how it all began with his brother; awed by the process. They both were involved in adult conversations about candidate issues and obstacles. It all reminded me that what we do with our young kids is indeed training them for adulthood, whether intentional or not. I realized that both of my kids achieved a first that day. Now, if only we could freeze these scenes for eternity. After all, one day they will be sitting on the parent side of these moments.