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Posted: November 11, 2011 12:00 a.m.

Tears on Veterans Day

I am still not quite sure whether it is the result of the open-heart surgery I had 13 years ago or the fact I have gotten older, but it seems that I can well up with uncontrolled tears these days due to the strangest things.

This past weekend, my wife Molly and I were cleaning out the basement and I talked her into bringing upstairs one of the many bins of pictures we have accumulated over the years.

I was looking through them and thinking about all the good things that accompanied each memory, when I pulled out an old Cavanaugh reunion book. As I began to look through the book of memories, I came across a copy of an old Washington Post story from 1915. It had a picture of my grandfather and his two brothers and I began to read a story about a mother who had her three sons go to war at the same time. The good news is they all came home, though two were gassed up a little bit. I tried to read the story to Molly, but I choked up and welled up with those tears.

Reading the old story about family caused some of the tears, but the truth of the matter is that Veterans Day has caused a twinge in my heart starting with the day the government found me physically unfit to serve.

Just like many of you I have relatives who have served and are currently serving our country -they all make me proud. I have a friend whose name is forever etched on the wall at the Vietnam Memorial. Visiting there always brings up those tears.

When I see the flag, I still feel a surge of pride, and again those damn tears well up.

Since that fall day in 1966, when the major sent me back down the road with a big rejection notice because I happened to have a few toes missing, I often feel a little ashamed when at patriotic gatherings when they ask members of different service groups to stand up and be recognized. I sometimes feel I let someone down.

Today, I am proud that as Americans we welcome our troops back home with speeches and music and special thanks for their selfless contribution to our way of life. I can remember the time many spat on our troops as they returned from the Republic of Vietnam. I myself was spat upon.

I remember clearly the warm spring day walking on DuPont Circle in Washington D.C. wearing my proudest American flag tie, when I saw an old classmate with a group of people. Since she had been one of my favorite and trusted friends, I went to greet her warmly. Instead she and her friends spit on my tie.

I was mortified. I thought our country was truly finished because of such people. It wasn't, and it won't be today, because we have the countless men and women both young and old who are putting their lives in harm's way for us, men and women who will ensure that as a nation we will not fail. I believe that with my whole heart and soul.

On Veterans Day, I look forward to taking the time to find time in my special thoughts for my father, who is still proud that he served in World War II, my cousins and nephews who are serving now, my co-workers whose children are overseas, our readers and their families, and I say a few prayers throughout the day asking God to keep all of them safe and to bring them home to their loving families.

Many times during the day as I think of all of these people and the heroes who served before them, those tears will well up. They won't be because of age, or a broken and repaired heart - they will be tears of pure unadulterated pride.

God bless our veterans and their families, may you always be showered with special blessings for your contributions to our life.

Pat Cavanaugh is the General Manager of The Covington News. He can be reached at pcavanaugh@covnews.com.

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