Friday, July 1, 2011

Veterans' Memorial Park and Kids' Patriotic Parade

Have you been to Veterans' Memorial Park? If not, you are missing out on a truly moving experience and a valuable opportunity to share a bit of history and even current events with your children. This was my first time actually getting out of the car and walking around the park and I am so glad I did. It was particularly meaningful paired with the children's parade that my friend, Kara, organized and led at Dow Rummel Village this morning.

Despite the 85-degrees-by-10am weather this morning and my extreme dislike for heat, I am so glad that we stopped at this park this morning. It was the perfect way to start the Independence Day weekend. Leah and Bo were so curious to hear about each of the statues and sculptures and memorials. Due to the extreme heat and total lack of a breeze, Grier and Fletch, on the other hand, were not so interested in stopping to read and discuss everything at this park, but I still think Leah and Bo got the idea. I think we will make it a point to return and read a little more each time. And maybe even read the names of the men and women on the "Never Came Home" bricks out loud.

I would just like to offer this disclaimer: I don't know what the exact "rules" are about visiting these kinds of memorials, but my children in no way meant any irreverence by walking on and being so close to some of the sculptures and tributes. We talked about staying off the bricks after this picture was taken, but I just wanted people to know that my boys meant no disrespect when they were so excited that they ran to the stars and poppies.

At times, it was difficult even to read the plaques and explain them to my children without getting a bit choked up. It was just a really beautiful time, hearing their perspectives about bravery and doing the right thing, even in the face of danger and persecution. I was proud to tell them about family members who have served and about some of the freedoms they still enjoy here in the United States of America that their counterparts in other areas of the world do not. Regardless of your personal beliefs about current military operations or even your feelings about some of the wars listed at the memorial, are there any mothers out there who would not hope and pray that their children would grow up to be brave men and women, willing to serve and protect not only their loved ones, but people they will never even meet? Not just through the military, but in any situation life may put them in?

Leah was all geared up to be in this picture with Bo. Then she stepped up on the bricks and saw a dead bird behind the "Medal of Honor" sign.

We read about the "Battlefield Cross."

We finally made it back to the car and got that air conditioner blasting. On to Dow Rummel!! Actually, we stopped at a gas station for some cold beverages first. Then, on to the nursing home and getting ready for our little kiddie parade. There were patriotic crafts to prepare, "floats" (strollers) to decorate, tattoos to put on, and a banner to color. It was really sweet to see and hear the kids smiling and waving and calling, "Happy 4th of July!" as they paraded through the dining halls of the nursing home. I'm sure you can also imagine the smiles on the residents' faces as they waved back at the line of children decked out in red, white, and blue and marching to patriotic songs such as, "You're a Grand Old Flag," and "My Country T'is of Thee."

Grier's first tattoo.

Ready to march!

Happy Independence Day (a little early), everybody!!

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