The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Enid Features

November 5, 2013

Every day is Veterans Day

What is a veteran? Think about it.

In a publication that Jim receives was an article by author unknown, that was one of the best articles I have  read about our veterans. I am paraphrasing some of it for this column as it is so timely and true.

Some veterans bear visible signs of their service, a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye. Others may carry the evidence inside them, a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg.  

Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem. You cannot tell a vet just by looking. He is your average Joe.

He is the POW who went away one person and came back another.  He is the Marine drill instructor who never saw combat but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy young people into brave Marines, teaching them to watch each other’s backs.  

He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb of the Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes, whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean’s sunless deep.  

He is the old guy in church or at the supermarket, palsied now and slow, who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to help him when the nightmares come.  Few of these old vets are still with us.  

He or she is an ordinary, and yet an extraordinary human being, a person who offered some of their  life’s most vital years in the service of their country, and who sacrificed their  ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.

He or she is (or was) a soldier, a sailor, a Marine, an airman and always a  protector of the finest, greatest nation ever known. They willingly serve(ed) and deserve our gratitude.    

So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say Thank you. It will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded.

Every day is Veterans Day in our household. Every day we think about the young Marines who were stationed here at Vance who have gone on to serve our country. Many are not in Afghanistan, where they have little contact with the “outside world” except when they can get to a telephone and call home.

When those boys (actually they are mature young men, but to us they are boys) left Enid, we were concerned that we would never hear from them again, but scarcely a week goes by that we don’t get a phone call from at least one of them.  When they moved on, we were left with a huge hole in our hearts.  

Jim was asked to be the “Guest of Honor” at the Marine birthday celebration in Afghanistan, on Nov. 10.  PEGASYS made a documentary of Jim’s talk and it was sent to the battlefield to be a part of their celebration. It was the least he could do to be a part of the birthday they have celebrated for 238 years. What an honor for Jim to be asked to be a part of their celebration.  

I had a call last week from a friend who has a grandson serving in the military, wanting to know if I had any tips for sending baked goodies to our servicemen. Who would know the answer to that better than Brenda Bingham, who is a Blue Star Mother who works diligently and tirelessly sending box after box of homemade goodies to our active veterans.

She and her organization have sent as many as 150 packages in one month to those serving our country. She said the only restriction is sending chocolate or other things that melt during hot weather, and to use only the medium-sized boxes to pack things.    

Brenda said the secret to not ending up with a box of crumbs when sending cookies or bread is to pack the boxes so full the things cannot rattle around. They use popcorn or loose candies or even granola to fill in any gaps. Cookies or breads or candies are placed in Ziplock bags and sealed after all the air has been forced out.  She said they send packets of hot chocolate mix and other mixes that they can easily mix with hot water. They all seem to love peanut butter in any form.  

Brenda said small loaves of bread go over well and pack easily. One of their favorites is mini loaves of pumpkin bread, but cranberry or banana or most any kind is appreciated. She packs them unsliced. They probably just break off a chunk and devour it without cutting it, since it is a loving gift from home.

This pumpkin bread is real moist and travels well and makes several little loaves, depending on the size of the loaf pans and filling them about 2⁄3 full before baking. Adjust the baking time until the loaves test done.  This recipe can easily be doubled.

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