An empty lot in our neighborhood has been undergoing a six month transformation. A few days ago, a sign announced that it will be a park honoring Corporal Patrick Deans. On December 12, 2010, at 22, Corporal Deans gave the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan.
As the daughter of a brave soldier, a project on Vietnam in sixth grade was my segue into the heart of a veteran. Dad sped fast past the fun of consuming MRE’s at the end of his National Guard weekends into the daily realities of a hero who’d medivacked countless wounded in a helicopter from rice paddies to makeshift hospitals daily for a year. Thankfully, he’s continued to share his journey for the last 28 years.
My dear husband is the proud son of a West Point graduate. At six months old, Rich met his father for the first time when his Dad finished the first of two tours in Vietnam. Communication with his Dad from age five to six consisted of completing sentences with the word “over” during his Dad’s second tour in Vietnam.
We’ve watched friends and the sons of friends go off to war.
We’ve watched people we care about wrestle with the realities of PTSD. We’ve seen marriages crumble and rebuild while children watch and struggle because of the costs of war. We watched soldiers try to drink away the demons and the horrors.
We are raising a son who wants to be a soldier.
There are no easy answers to the problems and questions and realities surrounding the lives of veterans. While I’m encouraged by such things as Tracy Gaudet’s passion to overhaul the VA, I am deeply troubled by so many other realities in the lives of our veterans.
But today is Veteran’s Day.
Today is a day to put aside our questions. Today is an incredible opportunity to honor their service, their courage, their families and their lives.
Proudly, at 4:30 today, the Street family will be standing at Corporal Patrick Deans Park to honor a young man and his family.
No matter where you live, please find a way to honor a veteran today.
Originally written as a poem, my favorite song for fallen soldiers was crafted by a then unknown woman named Elma Dean in 1961. It is sung here by my favorite musician, David Wilcox.
Let them in, Peter, they are very tired;
Give them the couches where the angels sleep.
Let them wake whole again to new dawns fired
With sun, not war. And may their peace be deep.
Remember where the broken bodies lie…
And give them things they like. Let them have noise.
God knows how young they were to have to die!
Give swing bands, not gold harps, to these our boys.
Let them love, Peter-they have had no time-
Girls sweet as meadow wind, with flowering hair…
They should have trees and bird song, hills to climb-
The taste of summer in a ripened pear.
Tell them how they are missed. Say not to fear;
It’s going to be all right with us down here.