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Long may our land be bright

The steady falling of rain on our roof was the first sound I heard when my eyes opened on that Monday. It was Veterans Day — a holiday usually celebrated with flag waving, parades, recognitions of the military and Ole Glory flanking streets and buildings. I was grateful to have been a part of celebrations earlier in the month and even more grateful that there were no mandatory parades in the cold rain which continued to intensify.

A hot, freshly brewed cup of coffee added to my morning wake up as I heard the hum of the heater. The street in front of our home was a floating canal of pine needles and rain water. How blessed I felt to feel the warmth of our home under a roof with no leaks. Shelter on days like that made me much more aware of the norms I too often take for granted.

The morning light was held at bay by the dark clouds, and a long burst of thunder threatened more rain. I thought how protected I felt during the wintry morning and how the sound of thunder only added to the “lazy” dawn.

How different such sounds have been and are for our veterans and military. The sounds of war may mimic thunder, but war sounds carry pain, destruction and death. Perhaps that miserably cold and rainy Veterans Day was the best reminder of the misery and wretchedness men and women in uniform must endure and have since our nation’s birth.

I thought back to the sweet memory of our Birmingham grandchildren’s Veterans Day program at their school the previous week. A packed audience of parents and grandparents heard their own children sing and play in the school orchestra. As the veterans were asked to come forward during the war in which they served, only one WWII veteran slowly made his way down the aisle and was helped on stage by younger veterans.

As the grandchildren left their grade sections to join their grandfathers on stage, a swell of patriotism and tears swept through the audience.

“My country tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing … Long may our land be bright with freedom’s holy light; protect us by Thy might, Great God, our King!”

Letters to Camille Anding can be sent to P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, MS, 39602, or e-mailed to camille@datalane.net.