This morning the boys' school held a Veteran's Day ceremony. Each child had the opportunity to make a candle for military service personnel in their family. The boys made candles for Skylar, Jeremiah and Rob.
Finn placing a candle for Jeremiah, who is on active duty with the Air Force and served in Iraq last winter and spring. Jeremiah is Eamonn and the boys' cousin.
Finn and his candle for Jeremiah
Declan placing candles for Skylar and Rob. Skylar just retired from 29 1/2 years in the Air Force (active duty and later reserves). Skylar is married to Eamonn's cousin, but he's "Uncle Skylar" to the boys. Rob served with the National Guard in Iraq from Sept. '06 - Oct.' 07. Rob is my cousin and the boys' cousin.
Declan with his candles.
I was surprised at how emotional I felt. Really, I've been this way since 9/11. I can no longer hear the National Anthem without tears coming to my eyes. On Sept. 12, 2001, we were here in Colorado at the opening ceremonies for the World Mountain Biking Championships. It was the first time I'd heard the Star Spangled Banner since the terrorist attacks the day before and I just stood there with tears streaming down my face and it's been like that pretty much ever since.
Today one little girl and her mother came up together to place a candle. Both were crying. A father? A husband? An uncle? A brother? A cousin? A sister? An aunt? A friend?
Several vets attended the ceremony as well. I went and thanked a Navy vet who had served in WWII and was there with his great grandchildren. Tears welled up in his eyes when I shook his hand. If you have never seen Band of Brothers, watch it. The most compelling parts are the interviews with the actual soliders who served. Sixty years, SIXTY YEARS, later, these gentlemen still get emotional when they talk about their time of service and the friends they lost. They talk about how when they came home, they couldn't talk about the war, even with their wives and children. But they were changed forever. And they were just in their late teens and early 20s. I can't even fathom it.
So to Skylar, Jeremiah, Rob and the countless others--thank you.