Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Veterans Day in Nashville

Yesterday I participated in the Veterans DAY Parade in Nashville. I emphasize day because it was on the REAL holiday rather than the Saturday previous, and even underlined the REASON for the date, by having the parade commence at 1100 hours. (For the history-challenged, it was originally called "Armistice Day" and celebrated the signing of the armistice that ended the "war to end all wars" or WW I, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918!)

Marching down Broadway toward the downtown heart of "Music City" was a personally very moving activity. Especially when folks on the sidewalks applauded, cheered and waved flags. Since I served for only three years and in peacetime I felt I hardly deserved to be applauded and cheered. Such honor belongs most to those men (and women also now) who bore the horror and sacrifice of combat times! Still, I didn't refuse or repress the sense of pride that came over me, and that this might be as close to a moment of fame or stardom as I will get in this life. After all I did my duty to my country; thank God it was in peacetime! I marched with others from Operation Stand Down Nashville. This organization aids and assists area military vets with job placement, housing, clothing, food stamp sign-up, bus passes, etc. Yes, OSDN helped me a lot when I arrived here, back in early August.

And I'm grateful. Which I displayed a month ago by being a volunteer at the sixteenth annual Event "Operation Stand Down". This activity combines sheltering, assisting, feeding, clothing and entertaining and honoring a few hundred needy and especially homeless vets.

Back to the Parade. We of OSDN were rather far back in the line of participating groups and elements. The marching band from Whites Creek High School stepped into the parade route just behind us; they provided music for us to move along to. I almost hesitate to say that we "marched", because few of us were moving in cadence -- even the cadence supplied by the band from WCHS. And when earlier I said "down Broadway", I was being quite literal! From the crest on which stands the Estes Keefauver Federal Building, this major thoro'fare of Nashville descends rather steeply and steadily to the bank of the Cumberland River. I'm sure glad we weren't marching in the opposite direction!

Mother Nature didn't cooperate for the parade. It rained on the parade, sort of. I'd actually carried my rain poncho to the parade, but never took it out despite the very slight drizzle. What I did wear included a necktie of American flag motif my San Antonio best friend Joe Tovar gave me last year, and a sweatshirt from the US Army Chaplain School. One of the OSDN fellows (I believe he's recently become a volunteer staff member) looked sharp in his Class A's -- the green dress uniform that is the equivalent of a civilian business suit. I told him that if I felt I could still fit into it, which I certainly cannot, I'd have worn my Class A's.

The drizzle started to become more true raindrops toward the parade's end. But as soon as the final unit arrived at the route's end, the sun peeked out! Yes indeed, Mother Nature wasn't cooperative! But I don't care; it was great to participate in the Veterans Day Parade, anyway. Rain or shine! God bless America!

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