I did okay until the marching band played and I was hit by a memory I hadn't thought of in a long time. I think it was the year Ryan and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. We met my parents and grandparents in Eureka Springs and went to the local auditorium for a concert. My mother was in a little community choir, and if I remember right, they were doing a patriotic-themed show. They sang a montage of the songs for each branch of the military and asked veterans in the audience to stand when their branch's song came up. I still clearly see my little Papaw, survivor of the Bataan Death March and three and a half years as a prisoner of the Japanese, stand up during the Army's song. This sweet man, not much taller than I, had braved the horrors of war and come through on the other side...became a father and a grandfather, a great-grandfather even...became this proud and brave but older man standing in a tiny theatre in Arkansas with others who had done the same. He's been gone since 2004.
Our band did something similar at school this morning, and I couldn't even look down to the gym floor to see which men and women stood when. I just missed my Papaw so badly at that moment, and if I looked I would have cried. Hard. But I'll be thinking of him all day today, and my Grandpa Jude, too. I, of course, have much respect and appreciation for all who have served this way, but it's those two soldiers who I'll always have the most for...my love and affection besides.