Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Yet another Veteran's Day during wartime

Wyoming State Government employees are off on Veteran's Day. This year the holiday falls on a Tuesday so some get a four-day weekend. In past years, Chris and I and the kids drove down to Denver's Fort Logan Military Cemetery to put flowers on my grandparents' graves. Florence Green Shay, first lieutenant in the U.S. Army nursing corps during WWI. Raymond Shay, second lieutenant in the Iowa National Guard's cavalry brigade. He saw action in the U.S. border skirmishes against Pancho Villa and in France during WWI.

We're not making the trip this year. Chris has to work at the YMCA. She supervises the Veteran's Day activities. It means a little more to her because her father was a 30-year Army NCO and a veteran of WWII, Korea and Vietnam. He's buried along with Chris's mom at Arlington National Cemetery.

It will be a busy day at the Y especially in the afternoon as the kids have only a half day of school. And all those adults (even bloggers) with the day off need something to do. As they work out, they can view the oral history video of Wyoming's rapidly shrinking group of WWII veterans. Chris's Writer's Voice program commissioned the video six years ago. The interviews are interspersed with archival footage from the war. Often the film is shown on Wyoming Public TV. It's also archived in the Library of Congress's Veteran's History Project. I believe that Chris has copies of the video of you're interested in purchasing one. Call her at 307-634-9622.

The YMCA's also throwing a party later in the day with punch and a big sheet cake with the legend: "Thank You, Veterans." Once the kids finish swimming or playing basketball, they're hunkering down to write letters to those military men and women now serving overseas.

Those ranks will soon be swelled by 900 troops from the Wyoming Army National Guard's 115th Field Artillery Brigade. They're being deployed to Kuwait in April for at least 400 days. The Guard's not saying whether the trip to Kuwait means jaunts into Iraq -- but you can read between the lines. According to the Guard, it's "the largest single-unit mobilization the Wyoming National Guard has ever received."

The unit's commander, Col. Richard Knowlton, will be traveling Wyoming during the next few weeks to discuss the deployment. Any time you rearrange the lives of 900 people and their families and their jobs, it has a huge impact. Especially in this state with a population of 500,000. Meetings will be held in Afton, Evanston, Rock Springs, Laramie, Torrington and Cheyenne. You can get more info at http://www.wy.ngb.army.mil/.

On this Veteran's Day during wartime, we wish you well.

When they return, they'll find resources through a new web site by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). Go to http://communityofveterans.org/.

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