The Marine Corp was formed on November 10, 1775. Why would someone like me know something like that? Why would I even care? Well, history is far more interesting when you know someone who lived it. My father was a Navy man. He served time during WWII on ships and submarines. But his work in Naval Intelligence, was spent "attached" to the 5th Marines.
So when he invited me to the Marine birthday party, which is essentially a Marine reunion, I agreed to go. My husband is a former Marine and I even convinced my two sons to go. Sitting at a table with my family, were two strangers; women whose husbands were marines, and I realized that it's not just the Marines themselves who feel that comradaree, but the families too. Soon we were talking with each other like long-lost friends.
As we finished up our meal of Swiss steak, potatoes, rolls, brocolli and salad, the program portion of the celebration began. Each Marine was handed a small microphone; they told about their time during the service. I noticed something interesting. The older the veteran, the longer they talked. Why might this be, I wondered. Could it be that the older the veteran, the less likely they have someone who wants to listen to their war stories of long ago? Might this be their only opportunity to remind others of their adventures in the service; their joys, their sorrows, and even a few funny stories? I hope that's not true, but I'm afraid it just may be.
So this Veteran's Day, find a veteran and give them the time to tell their story. Do as they were trained to do; don't avert your eyes; don't look at your watch. Listen---really listen. You just may be giving them one last opportunity to tell their story. It is a gift you give to each other.
photo by Karen L. Alaniz