Saturday, August 23, 2008

Memorial Day, 2008

I know Memorial Day was almost three months ago, but since I was not blogging at that time I could not very well tell about the wonderful day we all had in Oakman. The weather was a little iffy. Rain was threatening most of the day. A bank of clouds would roll in, the wind would pick up and we all wondering what would happen if it did rain. However, the sun would come back out and the breeze had cooled the air down somewhat.

Anyway, to the event of the day. It would probably be a good idea to go back about a year or so and bring everyone up to date on how this day came to be. It seems a couple of high school boys in the agribusiness class came up with the idea to make a monument to the veterans from Oakman that had been killed in war. They thought they could construct it out of some good grade of plywood and it would do for some years. Some other people heard about the project and minds began to come together, primarily from veterans.

The first meeting was held in the latter part of the summer 2007 and things began to roll in a hurry. Some of the men got together (once the site was located and approved) and began to cut some trees, have the stumps ground up and then the site prep started. There was grading to do, leveling to do, water lines run, electricity put in and the list went on and on. As other people in the town saw the work going on, the talk picked up. Soon others helped and the donations began to come in the the school or some of the men.

Now mind you, these veterans were not going to settle with just a plywood board. No sir. These men wanted something that would last years after they were gone and children not yet born could see. They designed a park that was patterned after one that is being built in East Tennessee. This one is no where as large as that one will be, but it is just as impressive.

There is an all-weather flag that flys 24/7 and it is lighted at night. Behind that are four monuments, one for each of the wars - WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Fortunately, so far we have not lost anyone to the Iraqi conflict. On each of these markers are listed the men from Oakman that gave their lives in each of these wars. Directly behind and to the middle of these is the Freedom Tower. It is an obelisk with each of the four freedoms we are privileged to have - freedom of religion, freedom of want, freedom from fear and freedom of speech. Behind the Freedom Tower is the monument dedicated to all veterans both living and dead whether death came as a result of the war or from natural causes. At the base of this monument around all sides are brick pavers that have been bought either in memory of or in honor of these veterans. This part is an on going project.

The agribusiness class has taken the upkeep of the park as their project. They will maintain the shrubbery, grass and flowers. The Beta Club members wrote statements in tribute to these veterans and to our heritage as Americans. These statements are placed on the back of each of the front markers, on all four sides of the Tower, on front and back of the Veteran's marker. Placed on the retaining wall are several more markers all containing statements from these students.

Finally, May 26th came and a great turn out of several hundred people came. The high school band provided patriotic music, The FFA officers led the Pledge, the Honor Guard presented a 21 gun salute, taps was played, a student sang the National Anthem accompanied by the band and we had speakers by some very prominent people. Among these were Mr. Julian Davidson, a graduate of Oakman High School who has a building name in his honor at the Flight Center in Huntsville. The key note speaker was Major General Alice Astefan (ret.), also a graduate of Oakman, one of seven children from the same family that all served in the military and at one time the highest ranking female in all the branches of the military. And who said small, rural high school can not produce high quality graduates?

Mr. Davidson made a statement that really brought it all home to the people that had worked so hard on this project. He said that he lived in Huntsville, a city probably at least 50 times as large as Oakman and they did not have anything there to compare to this.

I guess I was the proudest when my husband and a veteran was asked to do most of the speaking for the day as to explaining the various aspects of the park. He did such a wonderful job and received many compliments for it.

Oh, by the way, the rain did come but it was after everything was all over.

Even today there are people stopping to look at the monuments. A young man was passing the park on the day of the dedication and stopped to see it. He had just recently returned from deployment to Iraq. Those that were there and saw him said that as he walked around viewing everything that he just broke down and cried. Isn't that what it's all about? We can never let our men and women not know how much their sacrifices mean, even if we oppose the war(s).

Thursday, August 14, 2008

"I'll Defend Her to the End . . ."

No, I am not talking about Lee Greenwood's all time classic hit about the U.S.A. The words fit for me as a mother.  Having grown up in the country where there were many types of animals and fowl, I am familiar with the way some of them respond to their young.  The mother hen will flog you in a heart beat if you go near her young, otherwise known as "biddies."  Most animals are protective of their young, but we animals, human beings, are even more so. 
As most of you may know I, or rather Joe and I, have two childrenm both grown now. That fact does not deter me from coming to their side if I feel the need.  Anytime anyone, including family or friends, make either of my kids unhappy, I am unhappy.  
When I talk to either of them I can tell by their demeanor what they feel like, usually.  And today when I talked with my daughter she was crying!! To a mother that is very unacceptable behavior especially when she is crying because of the actions of some other person.  I was about to put my on "flogging" outfit.  
She is a very soft hearted person and very compassionate about things, but when some one begins to throw slurs at her and then she tries to defend herself only to be made to appear as if she is all wrong, it hurts.  She has tried to put this behind her but to no avail.  She has even accepted responsibility for whatever she did that may have appeared out of line.  Let's all face it.  NO ONE is perfect that walks on the big orb.  He that was is not longer walking here. EVERYONE is subject to making mistakes and misjudgements.  That is part of being a human.  That person that thinks they are immune to mistakes made their first one when they made such an implication.
I have said my say and am now burying this whole matter.  I only hope that my daughter can find peace and once more be herself.  She has tried to forget, but has not been successful.  My prays are for her every day.  And I know in time she will overcome.  I hope others will do the same.
I've spoken about our daughter.  The same holds true for our son.  And it is common knowlege, especially around here, that he has tested the waters quite frequently, but I can remember many times while still in school some of the scorn he was put through because he chose to be a musician rather than an athlete.  So much so that at one point he even gave band to be on the football team.  Did that help?  No!!  He then had to suffer the scorn of doing as the others to only wind up sitting on the bench.  This was not the only time things like this happened, but that hurt me just as much as it did him.  This does not excuse his actions over the last few years, but you wonder if things like that might not have led to his problem by him trying to "fit in."  Only he knows, but believe you me, If I ever find out who was responsible for the beginning of his problem, this mother hen will reinvent the flogging outfit.  
As Minnie Pearl used to say on "Hee Haw."  "We're through playing now."  I am through venting now.  

Sunday, August 10, 2008

My Parent's Dreams for Me

It is funny how somethings come to your mind out of nowhere. That happened to me recently. I can remember that my parents had dreams for me as an adult. For some reason Daddy wanted me to be a teacher and Mother wanted me to be a nurse. I never actually became either of those, but to some degree I have fulfilled their dreams for me.

Even though I did not become a teacher I did begin in that direction. When I entered college that was my goal; however, as so often happens, that just did not work out for me. I completed my first two years at the local junior college and was all ready to transfer to the University of Alabama. This was in 1963 and we all know the unrest in the colleges at that time. Anyway for whatever reason, I went to Mother and asked her if she would care if I didn't leave that day for the University. Now mind you, clothes were packed, dorm room attained, classes planned, the whole bit, but I just could not leave. Mother could not understand why, but she knew me well enough that she consented for me to "delay" the rest of my college career. Now looking back I realize that God had a reason for me not going. In just a few short weeks an event happened in our lives that was totally unexpected.

I had gotten a part-time job after deciding not to leave and since we were a one car family then (everybody was back then) I had to ride to work with Daddy. This particular day I only worked half a day, but when I got home Mother was waiting and told me to go back and get Daddy. He had gotten sick and needed to come home and go to the doctor. As soon as we got back Mother took him to the doctor who wanted him to go to the VA hospital, but Daddy refused saying he had work that had to go out. A side note here: Daddy was a dental technician and was paid strictly on commission - no work, no pay. So the doctor settled for him to go home and straight to bed. Daddy did that and we thought he would be OK after some rest. I went over to some friends house to play Canasta, but when I went by Grandmother's to get my sister she said to get back to the house immediately. When I did I found out Daddy had died. My world fell apart as did Mother's and my brothers and sister. Those were some of the longest days of my life. I would not sleep at night and when I did I had the most awful real-like dreams. I never told anyone and in the process I lost about twenty pounds in just a matter of three months. Anyway, that was the reason I did not leave that Sunday afternoon for Tuscaloosa. I just did not know it then.

As far as becoming a nurse. Forget it. I couldn't stand to see anyone else get sick and didn't like the sight of my own blood and forget it if someone had to have a shot. So in my mind that was not even an option.

Fast forward several years. In 1968 my high school counselor had gone to work in the central office of the local board of education and they had an opening for a clerk. He asked if I was interested and I took it. This was just a great chance to advance. Then in October Joe and I got married and he left for Ft. Eustis, VA. for his duty station. I would go up when he got base housing. That happened in February. I resigned my job and Trina and I move off to Virginia. I forgot to say that Trina was my child from a previous marriage and she was part of the package deal, to which Joe quickly agreed. We had our own little government apartment and it was so beautiful. We only stayed there until August when Joe was deployed, again, for Vietnam. Here we go back to Alabama. After that year it was off to South Carolina for a few months and then Joe was assigned to recruiting duty in Tuscaloosa. Then fourteen months later he was transferred to the recruiting office in Jasper and there he stayed until retirement. While in T'town we had our son.

In 1975 I decided to go back to work and found a job in payroll at the local board of education. This began my career in education. From there I went to the school where I had attended and the children were now attending. I stayed there until June 2000 when I retired after 25 years. So even though I didn't teach I did work in education and in my own way, I feel I impacted a lot of young lives. Daddy's dream was fulfilled.

After retirement, I got busy in other things. I began attending the ladies' Bible class on Tuesday morning and always had a good day with the other "girls." Over time this day evolved into a work day as our group began to do volunteer work for one of the hospice units. We would cook, package and freeze meals that the nurses would deliver to the patients and their families. This was not because the families could not afford the food, but because often times the care givers were so tired they just did not feel up to cooking. For whatever reasons, they got food. This has now grown to doing meals for not just one but two units. So rewarding.

Then in 2007 I decided to do volunteer work with the auxiliary at the hospital, the same hsopital that Mother has retired from in the late 80's. I was put in the gift shop and soon found myself eagerly awaiting Fridays. Then it hit me one day that even though I did not become a nurse I was "working" around a hospital. Our pay is not much (lunch on the days we work), but the rewards are worth more than any paycheck. So Mother, in a way, your dream has been fulfilled. I told my supervisor one day that when I put on my white pants, shoes, and blouse and then put on my pink smock and walk down the halls, I feel like I am walking in Mother's footsteps.

I am a rambling type of writing, so if you happen to stop by my blog and it looks like you have picked up a novel, fear not, it is I. I have always loved to write and even at one time considered journalism.

I hope the day has been good for you and that this week you will find a blessing in your life.