30 Days of Thankfulness: Days 11 & 12 – Veterans & Bagpipes

Day 11: Veterans
Yesterday was Veteran’s Day. This is a national holiday that always stirs in me a deep gratitude for the freedoms I enjoy and the ones who have made it possible for me to enjoy them.

I come from a family that has at least one person who has served in every branch of the Armed Forces. I am proud of each and every one of them. Some served in wartime, others in times of peace. Each served for his own reasons, and each has his own stories to tell.

Last night, my Navy veteran husband, David, and I had dinner at an area restaurant that was serving a free meal to all veterans. We were greeted at the door by several members of a JROTC group from a local high school. They were young, fresh-faced and in full dress uniforms. Throughout the evening, they (and their commander) went from table to table, shaking hands with and thanking every veteran in the restaurant.

As I looked around, I saw men and women who have served our country in every generation that is still drawing breath. Behind me in line was a young woman who could not have been more than 25. In front of me were a grandfather who had lost his arm in wartime and a man who was sporting a Viet Nam POW/MIA emblem on his vest. At the table next to ours were two gentlemen who had to be staring ninety in the face. On our way, David made a point to stop by their table to shake their hands and thank them for their service. It was a simple gesture, but one which gave me a little glimpse into the heart of the man I married – a glimpse into a part of him that was his life years before I knew him. The tenderness and admiration in his voice toward these fellow comrades made me love and respect him all the more.

Being in that restaurant last night surrounded by veterans from every branch and several generations, I felt honored to be a part of their world for a little while. There is an unspoken connection between these men and women, and you could feel it in the air. To all our veterans and those currently serving, and their families, thank you. You are our heroes.

Day 12: Bagpipes

Just as we were finishing dessert last night, there was suddenly a sound in the restaurant – the unexpected and almost surreal sound of bagpipes, slowly overcoming the din of diners and television football games. I turned around to see a man, in full Scottish regalia, walking through the restaurant playing the familiar strains of a song I can not name. He slowly made his way to a center point near the bar and stood there as he finished his opening song.

There was a brief  pause, then the sweet strains of Amazing Grace began to fill the restaurant and bar. There was a noticeable decline in the noise level as many stopped their conversation to listen. I paused and simply took it in.

Being of Scotch/Irish descent, there is something inside me that has always been drawn to the unique and somewhat forlorn sound of bagpipes, and this was the first time I had seen them played in person. What an unexpected treat, and what a poignant reminder of the very freedoms we embrace – to have a song with such an unmistakable Christian message as Amazing Grace played in a restaurant filled with veterans and their families – that we could enjoy such a moment without fear of backlash or government intervention is the very reason our veterans have served and our current military now put themselves in harm’s way.

God bless America. But even more so – America, bless God.

“If my people, who are called by my name, 
will humble themselves and pray and seek my face 
and turn from their wicked ways, 
then I will hear from heaven, 
and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14

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