Veteran's Day Remembrance • November, 2005
We've carried them in our hearts for 60 years, our beloved fathers. Today in Washington, DC we have a place to honor them, to gather with veterans and gold star mothers and our brother and sister war orphans. Several of us who live in the DC area met at the WWII Memorial on Thursday, November 10th, a windy autumn afternoon. Bill DeVries and Jean Herz represented AWON in the presentation of the wreath of honor. Their presence is a recognition that we are a recognized and valued part of the family who has deep ties to and remembers all of those who died in WWII. Bill and Jean stood tall for all of us brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of our beloved fathers, who were no doubt pretty happy that we were with them at that moment as they are with us.
After the wreath was placed under the Atlantic Arch (Gold Star Mothers presented the wreath that lay under the Pacific Arch) a woman of the WWII generation with the voice of an angel led us in singing God Bless America. We left our fathers and all the rest in peace once again and said good-bye with Taps.
As war orphans always do, we instantly and deeply bonded with each other, trading stories of our fathers as we stood right there under the arch after the ceremony while the sun went down. We drove together to The Church of the Epiphany for "Choral Evensong In Honor of Veterans of the Second World War and In Tribute to the Anglo-American Alliance."
The Honorable Celia Sandys, granddaughter of Sir Winston Churchill read the first lesson. The choir sang majestically, beautifully, and Iím sure their voices reached heaven.
Toward the end of the service, I was proud to represent AWON in the Rose Ceremony. Those taking part in the Rose Ceremony represented the Service Organizations of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, Iwo Jima Veterans, Black Iwo Jima Veterans, Women's Army Service Pilots, Women's Army Corps, WAVES, Army Medical Service, Army Nurses Corps, Navy Nurses Corps, OSS, The Red Cross, Gold Star mothers, The Flying Tigers, 99th Infantry Division, Liberation of the Philippines, Guam Resistance Fighters, The Commonwealth of Nations, Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, The Home Front, American World War II Orphans Network, and Victims of the Holocaust. It was an august group, which has had direct experience with all aspects of WWII.
Each of us was given a white rose which we carried close to our hearts as we walked down the aisle with a military escort. My father and all our fathers walked with me as I led the procession slowly down the aisle. When we came to the alter and it was time to put the rose in the vase, I wanted to keep it with me forever, as it had come to symbolize our fathers. The vases received the roses from each hand and we stood together and sang the closing hymn: "Abide with me: fast falls the eventide; The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide: When other helpers fail and comforts flee, Help of the helpless, O abide with me. . . In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me."
What a privilege to be able to meet together and offer our love for our fathers to the wider world.
The story and photos were provided by Susan Hadler, with thanks!