This Veterans Day Was Different
By Stuart Nelson
Past BVA National President Joe Burns, right, enjoyed the Marine Corps birthday and Veterans Day with his India Company 3/7 Band of Brothers.
The group gathers in the Nation’s Capital annually on Veterans Day. Pictured with Joe is Marine buddy Roger Villareal of Deer Park, Texas.
Veterans Day came and went quickly this year. I hope that many of our readers were able to enjoy a ceremony, a parade, a patriotic event in their communities, or even just some quiet moments to contemplate what veterans have done in advancing our nation’s freedoms and way of life.
If leaving home and getting out on Veterans Day was not possible, I hope the day was yet uplifting for all of our blinded veterans, and that someone, in one way or another, said thank you to each one of them.
I’ve now experienced my seventh Veterans Day with the Blinded Veterans Association. As always, I attended the Veterans Day National Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. One would think that Veterans Days would now run together in my storehouse of memories. After all, the National Cemetery programs all occur at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month each year. They all take place in the same location, and with similar music. Even the speakers—they’re also all similar if not identical.
Newly elected National Treasurer Ron White received orientation from BVA National Headquarters staff November 8-9,
also becoming better acquainted with the Washington, DC metro transit system during his stay.
Events leading up to Veterans Day were also much the same this year. Important elections took place just four days before. New members of the BVA Board of Directors, Ron White and Bob Campbell, reported to National Headquarters for some orientation and training, also a BVA tradition. President Bush also issued his usual Veterans Day proclamation. And, last but certainly not least, the Marine Corps celebrated its birthday, as always, on Veterans Day Eve.
So did anything make Veterans Day any different this year? Was it mid-November temperatures in the 70s? Was it the dedication of a new Marine Corps National Museum a few miles to the south of Washington? Was it Secretary Nicholson’s call for veterans to proudly wear their military awards and decorations this Veterans Day and on all Veterans Days in the years to come?
If not those things, was it my first-ever press pass to take photos of the Presidential wreath laying? Or was it the emotion of watching Sergeant 1st Class Jeffrey Mittman take the walkway to the Tomb of the Unknowns to present the BVA wreath, accompanied by Larry, Ron, and Bob?
If the difference came from none of the above, could it have been the sight of BVA Past President Joe Burns and his Vietnam veteran buddies decked out in their Band of Marine Brother uniforms at the Miltary Order of the Purple Heart reception?
There were indeed many things that could have made Veterans Day 2006 unique for me. Although some of the aforementioned could well have played a role, the events of the day were not, by themselves, nearly as significant to me as the thoughts and feelings they evoked.
As it should be for all Americans, however, I’m not so sure that any external event made the day much different from those of the past.
President Bush is first to present wreath at Tomb of the Unknowns,
done prior to his speech in Memorial Amphitheater.
I believe this is what happened to me this year as I participated in Veterans Day activities with BVA staff, members of the Board of Directors, and Jeffrey and Christy Mittman. I hope it will happen to me again next Veterans Day and on all other Veterans Days from now on.
Christy and Jeff Mittman visit with Bob Campbell, left, and Director of District 3 Sam Huhn.
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