What is a veteran? Think about it.
In a publication, I read 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 one of 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, if any, 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 in any war or conflict, lean over and thank them for their service to our great country. Every person who served in the military had a special job to do and they did it. Only about 10% of those serving saw actual combat but it took every person doing their job well to keep our country protected and safe. Every day is Veterans Day in my household. Every day I think about the young Marines who were stationed here at Vance who have gone on to serve our country. Many are now in locations 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 me they are boys) left Enid, we were concerned that we would never hear from them again, but scarcely a week goes by that I don’t get a phone call or message of some kind from at least one of them. When they moved on, we were left with a huge hole in our hearts.
I am so proud the way our wonderful Enid celebrates veterans with the parade and the military park at Woodring. The Vietnam Memorial Wall is so meaningful. The names of many of those who served in every branch of service in all wars are honored on a memorial wall also by their loved ones. The park is very peaceful and reflects the manner in which we honor our veterans. Our great nation says, “Thank you for your service.” We salute you.
I had a call recently from a friend who has a child 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 a Blue Star Mother who works diligently and tirelessly sending box after box of homemade goodies to our active veterans? That organization has sent hundreds and hundreds of packages to those serving our country. The only restriction is sending chocolate or other things that might melt during hot weather and to use only the medium-sized boxes to pack things.
The secret to not ending up with a box of crumbs when sending cookies or bread is to pack the boxes so full that things cannot rattle around. Use popcorn or loose candies or even granola to fill in any gaps. Cookies, breads or candies are placed in Ziploc bags and sealed after all the air has been forced out. Sending packets of hot chocolate mix are always appreciated, and they all seem to love peanut butter in any form.
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. Pack 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, travels well and makes several little loaves, depending on the size of the loaf pans and filling them about two-thirds full before baking. Adjust the baking time until the loaves test done. This recipe can easily be doubled.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 cup pumpkin
1-1/2 cup flour
1 small package Jello-O instant coconut pudding
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts
Mix sugar, oil, eggs and pumpkin. Sift together the dry ingredients and add to pumpkin mix. Add pudding mix and nuts. Mix until blended. Dough will be stiff. Spoon into greased and floured baking pans. Bake at 350 degrees until they test done. Line the bottoms of the pans with cut wax paper and they will come out easily and hold together better.
God bless all the veterans who have served and those who now keep America safe.