I’m not sure why I did it.
Perhaps it was because I found myself running errands in the same town as the cemetery.
Perhaps it was because I have recently been watching a lot of Army Wives on Netflix.
In any case, I’m glad I did.
Today is Veterans Day. It’s a day that comes every 11th of November where we take time to pause and thank the brave men and women of this country. They fought so that we could enjoy many of the rights and freedoms that we sometimes take for granted.
My grandfather fought in the Korean War and my uncle in the Persian Gulf. They are buried in the same cemetery just few feet from each other. I was never incredibly close with either man, but close enough to have loved them and to have appreciated their presence in my life.
Lily Bean and I stopped at Giant and picked up a bouquet of 10 roses (no coupons, though I did save $1 with my Bonus Card). We drove to the cemetery and I tried to explain Veterans Day. She’s 3. I don’t think I made much of an impression on her. But I do think I laid a little bit of groundwork for a lesson in gratitude that I can continue as she grows.
We got to the cemetery and trekked against the chilly wind to their plots. Lily was impressed with the American flags flying next to each stone and I told her again that her great grandad and uncle had been brave soldiers who helped our country. She was more than happy to help me lay a few roses on each of their graves.
After we finished, we had 4 roses left from our bouquet. I asked Lily if she would like to give the rest of our roses to some other soldiers. She agreed and I told her to look for more American Flags to find the soldiers. This turned into a bit of a game as she looked for flags, announcing proudly when she came across one. We laid a single rose on four more graves and then scampered back to the warmth of our car.
I know that realistically, the most Lily will remember about today was finding flags. She might not remember the flowers. She might not remember the significance of giving thanks today (or giving thanks any day of the year, for that matter). She might not remember that we talked about her relatives and their sacrifices.
But today was just a start. And what a beautiful tradition this could make.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to all of the Veterans out there. Also to the enlisted men and women, active, reserve, retired… for making this wonderful country free for all of us. You have sacrificed so that freedom could endure. And I am forever grateful.