I am not one to go out of my way to see a celebrity. However, I was drawn to get a good view of General Vang Pao at Fresno's 90th Annual Veterans Day parade. I suppose I was caught up in the moment because of the legendary and controversial military history of General Pao. At any rate, I can add him to my very short list of celebrities I have seen. I was equally impressed, however, by the large number of Hmong soldiers who marched in the parade. Seeing them brought home the message that we do not go it alone in this world. We are all interconnected. In a community as diverse as Fresno, it was good to see that our veterans appear to reflect the diversity of our area proportionately.
However, there was something that really bothered me this year. I had to go alone to the parade, because my husband had to work. He is a veteran, and I am not. It seemed so unfair. He and countless other veterans are supposed to be honored on Veterans Day. I know that some small business owners might not be able to give a paid holiday to their workers, but how about at least granting them a flexible schedule to attend activities meant to honor their service?
As I watched the parade, people all around me were shouting to service men and women, "Thank you for your service!" I could not help but think what a shame it was that not all veterans were able to share in that joy. There is a camaraderie among veterans that is deep and unspoken. It is something that the rest of us can never completely understand, because we do not have the experience to render that understanding.
I am so thankful to, and proud of, our military--past and present. They sacrifice for us all. They do what most of us cannot. That is, they accept the task of going anywhere, under any circumstances, to do whatever is necessary to ensure that we can all feel secure in our homeland. Because they do their duty, we do not encounter tanks and soldiers on our streets, nor do we have to show documents at checkpoints or worry that we will be caught out after curfew. We live our lives freely and out in the open.