Today we hung Old Glory all over Auburn. Actually the Civitans, of which I am a member, hung the flags. Over the years the Auburn club has hung the flags for all state and federal holidays but for me personally Veterans Day is the most meaningful. As I place each of the flag's poles into the holders (we have parking meters with a special receptacle for the flag poles) I think about the many people in my own family as well as those I've known who are veterans. It is a long list. You see, we are a military family.
That didn't really dawn on me until just a few years ago when my own sons became old enough to register for the Selective Service. Then it hit home like a sledge hammer. Never mind that the two oldest were both in ROTC. It was when they turned 18 that I began to really think about what that might mean. Little Boy didn't take ROTC. He prefered sports in high school. But this summer he decided to put college on hold and enlisted in the Navy. So now I am not only a former Army wife twice over but a Navy Mom! Ouch. That really smarts when I start to think about it. I can't help but think about all the mothers who have sacrificed their sons and daughters and wonder if I could handle it gracefully. My head is so proud of him it aches, but my heart aches more.
I wonder how my great grandmother felt when her youngest son left her embrace as he headed to the European theater in WW2. And I also wonder about how my great great grandmother handled finding herself suddenly alone in 1861 when not only her husband Asa but both her sons Adoniah and Amaziah marched off to war. Amaziah was only 17. All three came home, but one was gravely wounded at Little Round Top and was crippled for life. Two of my ancestors also fought in the Revolutionary War. Both died.
Last year I made a list of each of my family members in the last four generations who have served. They are:
Name War/Era Branch Relationship
Waldrop Windham, WW2, Air Corps, grandfather
Thomas Martin, WW2, Navy, grandfather by marriage
Peyton Bobo, Korean era, Marines, cousin
Walter Engle, Vietnam, Marines, half brother
Jerry Conaway, Vietnam, career Army, father in law, 1st marriage
Andy Conaway, Grenada/80s, Army, 1st husband
Tom Conaway, 1980s, Airforce, brother in law, 1st marriage
Betsy Conaway Wolfe, current, Army Wife, sister in law, 1st marriage
Malcolm Wolfe, current, career Army, brother in law, 1st marriage
Trey Wolfe, current, Army, nephew
Jonathan Conaway, current, Army, nephew
Ginger Delvalle Eads, current, Army Wife, niece
Richard Kneeland Jr. , 1999 - 2003*, Army (Disabled Vet), husband *9/11 veteran
Richard Kneeland Sr., 60s,- 90s, career Air Force, father in law, 2nd marriage
Carla Kneeland Abba, current, Air Force Wife, sister in law, 2nd marriage
David Abba, current, career Air Force, brother in law, 2nd marriage
Patrick Conaway, current, Navy, son
I included my sisters in law who are currently married to active duty personel as well as my niece. As a former Army wife I know they are serving as well!
So once again the flags wave in downtown Auburn as we mark the Veteran's Day holiday, and say "thank you" to those who put us first before themselves.
I am proud to count myself as part of a military family.
And lucky to be an American.