I am still not quite sure whether it is the results of the open heart surgery I had 17 years ago or the fact I have gotten older, but it seems that I can well up with uncontrolled tears because of the strangest things.
The other weekend Molly and I were cleaning out the basement and I talked her into bringing up stairs one of the many bins of pictures we have accumulated over the years.
I was looking through them and was 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 that had a picture of my grandfather and his two brothers. 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. Two were gassed up a little bit, though. 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 Memorial Day and Veterans Day causes a twinge in my heart starting with the day the government found me physically unfit to serve it.
Since that fall day in 1966, when the major sent me back down the road with a big rejection notice because I just happened to have a few toes missing, I often feel a little ashamed when at patriotic gatherings they ask members of different service groups to stand and be recognized. I sometimes feel I let someone down.
Just like many of you, I have relatives who have served and are currently serving in the service of 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, and the Moving Wall that came recently to Rockdale, brings up those tears.
When I see the flag, and the sacrifice, service and freedoms it represents, I still feel a surge of pride and again those damn tears well up.
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 Vietnam. I myself was spit upon by a member of one of the same scraggly and dirty group that resurfaced during the Occupy sit-ins.
I remember clearly the warm spring day I was walking on Dupont Circle in 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 who will insure that as a nation we will not fail. I believe that with my whole heart and soul.
On this Memorial Day weekend, I look forward to my special thoughts for my father who is still proud that he served in World War II, for my cousins and nephews who are serving now, for my co-workers whose children are overseas, and for our readers and their families. Throughout the day, I say a few prayers 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 that 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 who paid the ultimate price and their families and to all our veterans. May you always be showered with special blessings for your contributions to our lives.
T. Pat Cavanaugh is the Publisher of the Rockdale News and the Covington News.