As I ironed the sleeves of my shirt, the uncertainty I felt the days before gave way to excitement, and when I secured the buttons on my coat I looked with satisfaction at myself in the mirror. I missed wearing this uniform. But today I was allowed to remember those days I counted as some of my happiest and show my children for the first time how I used to dress for work every day.

Hannah Grace couldn’t stop rubbing my legs, as she was not used to seeing her mother wearing panty hose, and Caleb beamed when he saw my attire. I couldn’t find my flight cap in the attic the night before, so I wasn’t sure if I would be able to wear my uniform to the ceremony. However, Caleb knew that a fully dressed mommy meant all was well.

I dropped Caleb off in front of the flagpole and told him I would see him in a few minutes, and as he bounced off to his class wearing his book bag that took up half the size of his body, I looked for a parking space. I parked, and the girls and I walked through the cold toward the gym where the ceremony would take place.

All of my family was already there–my mom and dad, sister and nephew, and Matt’s mom and grandfather and his grandfather’s wife. We took our seats on the gym floor and listed as a retired Army major played the bagpipes.


Matt's Granddaddy, me, and my mom

The children came in and we all joined together in singing the National Anthem, and then they sang songs of tribute for all who had served. We stood as we heard the song representing our branch of service, and they all clapped. Our names were read out loud and the branch in which we served, and a fifth grader came with a rose and a handmade card expressing thanks.

I remember looking at my mom as she stood and sang the Army song, and she smiled a smile that I don’t see often–she was proud. I understood her emotion, and I was proud with her.

At the end of the ceremony, all the veterans formed a receiving line, and the students walked through and shook our hands. I was impressed at this group of little boys and girls, shaking hands and offering their thanks with a smile.

Before we left, the school asked for a picture with all the veterans–men who had served in Korea and Vietnam, some who completed their 2-year tour, others who made a career and retired after 20, brand new lieutenants and airmen, and seasoned sergeants and majors. But there were only three women–a woman who taught at the high school and my mom and me.


My sister Lisa joined us, representing her husband who served in the Army for six years


My dad’s birthday was a few weeks ago, and we celebrated in our family’s typical style of singing and cake. After the traditional ‘Happy Birthday,’ my mom gave her usual attempt at ‘May the good Lord bless you’ (sung to the ‘Happy Birthday’ tune), to which we all ignored her. I’m not sure why the antipathy for that song–perhaps it’s my mother’s insistence at singing it every birthday that causes us to refuse.

Two songs not being enough, my dad in jest tried to rouse us into singing, ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow…,’ and feeling bad for him and the lack of participation, I sang along. And now I had to be the smart-aleck. “God Bless America” broke from my lips, and to my surprise, my mom and dad joined in during the middle line. I looked around as my sister added her voice to the chorus, and my brother-in-law, who, like my husband, normally looks bored and sleepy, was singing loudly while swinging his arm in a show of support. As we sang the words, ‘my home, sweet home,’ all the adults were belting out their best, while the kids tried to sing along to a song they didn’t know. We actually sounded good and laughed at this spontaneous show of support for this patriotic song at a birthday party.

We then rounded out the evening with a talent show for my dad featuring bizarre dance moves from the kids and Bette Midler and Mariah Carey songs sung horribly by my sister and me. I have a feeling that my dad left that night feeling a little confused.

November 11th, we celebrated Mason’s birthday. He had just started a new job, so he missed the school’s Veterans Day celebration, but his new co-workers showed him their appreciation when their work-day ended. And that night, we showed him ours, as well.

Once again, we sang ‘Happy Birthday’ and followed with our new tradition that started as a joke but seemed somewhat appropriate that night. The kids should know the words to ‘God Bless America’ by Max’s birthday.

And I, no longer in my uniform, was able to clap and move to the music while I watched a stunning dance party, complete with superheroes and pirates and policemen.

All Veterans Days should end so well.

How does your community celebrate Veterans Day? What other traditions do you celebrate that are unique to your family?



2 thoughts on “Traditions

  1. Oh, happy day! What a wonderful celebration we shared. Hebron Christian Academy showed so much love and support for the veterans. It was a beautiful ceremony; and then Mason's birthday party in the evening continued the celebration. I think "God Bless America" will continue to follow all our Happy Birthday parties. (Before posting pictures, please do so with the approval of Lisa and Mom.) 🙂


  2. I have seen fathers and sons representing their time in service but I was real proud to see my wife and daughter up front representing their branch of service.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s