I was with my daughter, Annamaria, at Walmart during the weekend, and when we walked outside after checking out, there were two members of a local veterans' organization set up in front of the entrance accepting donations.
I asked them to talk to my daughter about their experiences.
The older of the two men spoke up. He told Annamaria that he had served in not one but two wars – Korea and Vietnam. He said he lied about his age in order to enlist at the age of 15. He also told us he was a retired police officer.
As we were walking back to the car, I talked to her about the importance of studying the military conflicts of history and, in particular, honoring those who have fought and died for our freedom as Americans.
I told her, "You can't imagine what some of these individuals have seen and experienced."
As a journalist, I've had the opportunity to interview many veterans, which has bolstered the importance of American military history for me. Sometimes, I feel it's something they don't cover enough in school, so I try to encourage my daughter. Her grandfather is a member of the Army National Guard, and the majority of her great-grandfathers served as well, so she has learned a few lessons about what it means to honor our soldiers.
We have a tendency these days to shelter our kids. But we shouldn't keep them from exploring the darker corners of history. Instead, we should shine a light on them.
Speaking of honoring our veterans: I had the chance to attend a ceremony last week renaming the bridge over Sandy Creek after two soldiers who died in Vietnam. It was a moving experience to hear from the family members of one of these soldiers and to write about it for the readers of this paper.
I understand a similar renaming will occur in July in Ripley.
These are usually done by resolution from the state legislature. The legislature has a lot on its plate, to be sure, but it's worth the time and effort to designate these public landmarks in honor of our veterans. My hat is off to Del. Steve Westfall, R-Jackson, for pushing this one through.
Anna is a water monkey. She loves to swim. We spend hours every summer at the pool. This year, we'll be doing that in Jackson County. We attended opening day at the Ravenswood City Pool. Mayor Josh Miller says about 500 people turned up, which set a record for opening-day attendance.
The pool looked great. Everything was neat and clean, and it was great to see the artwork on the front of the building. Students from Ravenswood Grade School created several works of art out of saved bottle caps. Volunteers repainted an exterior wall and hung the pieces, most of which followed an aquatic theme.
It was a great day for swimming; it was humid and sticky outside, so jumping into the pool was the perfect way to cool off.