Thursday, November 11, 2010

Magical Moment 280, "The Eleventh Hour"

The Veterans Day Parade, NYC

On July 29, 2001, five exceptional men were honored by the President of the United States for their remarkable military service. They were involved in a top secret mission that required unfathomable intelligence and as a result, literally won a battle which was instrumental in winning the war. Not the war that was happening in 2001, not even the Gulf War. It was World War II, and they were the Navajo Code Talkers who were largely responsible for winning the bloody battle of Okinawa. The only problem with the ceremony was that just 5 remained of the original 29. Our country was too late in thanking the other 24, and nearly too late in thanking those 5 men.

On March 10, 2010, three hundred women won the Congressional Gold medal for their outstanding war service. Unfortunately, 800 received the award posthumously. These were the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) of World War II, who devoted themselves to flying military aircraft like the B-26 and B-29 Bombers - an idea that was absolutely unheard of for women at that time. Our country gave them no ceremony, no thank you, and did not even pay for the funerals of the ones who were lost during their service. And we were nearly too late to thank these 300 ladies.

In 2006, a girl hugged her friend goodbye one night before he left for Iraq in the morning. He was eager to serve and quite willing to go. "See you when you get back," she said as he walked away into the night. But she never said "thank you." And for this young man, it was too late. In the final hour before First Lieutenant Kevin Gaspers left for war, I missed the chance to express the gratitude he deserved and took it fore granted that he would come home. He was killed April 23, 2007.

In 1919, President Wilson proclaimed of the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month (Armistice Day, later known as Veterans Day):
"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with lots of pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."

Today, don't let it be too late to thank the Veterans you know.
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." -John Fitzgerald Kennedy


Dawn said...

Thank you for this heart-filled post.
We Will Remember.
And Be forever Thankful.

Hilary said...

A beautiful, thoughtful tribute, Elizabeth. I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend.

Your Veterans Day is our Remembrance Day. The name is different but the sentiment is the same. May we never forget.

Elizabeth Grimes said...

Thank you both for your comments. It was great to read both of your posts as well!

Steve Gravano said...

Beautiful tribute. I thank our veterans whenever I get the opportunity.

Elizabeth Grimes said...

Thank you Steve. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

I went back to read your linked post after reading this one, and now I sit with tears rolling down my face.
I can see why Hilary awarded you a POTW.

Lori said...

What a beautiful heart felt post to all these wonderful brave men and women. I read the post about your friend. I am so sorry. Congratulations on POTW mention at Hilary' are so deserving of this.

I am really thankful to have been led here to your special place. I love your idea of one magical moment a day...of focusing on the more positive moments instead of the negative. I really try to do the same every day. :)

Elizabeth Grimes said...

Kcinnova, thank you for that comment. I'm glad you read the posts and learned a little more about my friend.

Lori, thanks also for your kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed my blog. I thought it would be a challenge to write every day at first, but it's been a blessing instead!

Cricket said...

Well said. Congratulations on your potw.

Life with Kaishon said...

What a beautiful post. I love it. I am so thankful and grateful for the men and woman who have fought and served our country. We are a blessed nation indeed.

CherylK said...

This is such a heartwarming tribute to those special men and women and it's a perfect choice for Hilary's POTW mention.

The concept of your blog is admirable and I'm looking forward to reading more of it. This is journalism at its best.

Elizabeth Grimes said...

Cheryl, thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed this post and certainly hope you find others as well! :)

Linda said...

Elizabeth, I was so touched by this post and by the one written on Kevin's birthday. You write beautifully. Thank you for this warm tribute to those who give their all for us. And congratulations on POTW.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Wonderful post and a great reminder. Thank you.
Congrats on your POTW from Hilary.

Elizabeth Grimes said...

Linda, thank you for your kind comment, and also for reading the previous post about Kevin. It's wonderful to keep his memory alive through writing.

Joanna, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for your comment!

ds said...

Lovely and so true. I am sorry for the loss of your friend. That is difficult.
Thank you for this post.

gaelikaa said...

Beautiful. A worthy sentiment indeed.

Land of shimp said...

This was a lovely tribute, and congratulations on the potw of the week mention at Hilary's blog.

Technically no one ever wins the medal of honor though, it is awarded :-) Now, I confess, that difference doesn't seem terribly important, but evidently it's a rather important distinction for people in the service.