Veteran's Day Celebration 2007By Linda Hill
Our recent Veteran's Day gathering was such a fabulous day! We really did miss those of you who could not attend. We had a tremendous crowd of veterans from various different wars and branches of military service. Will and I truly enjoyed meeting and visiting with so many of those gentlemen that we had previously not been able to meet. I have personally met and been inspired by (as well as learned from) so many of the veterans that have traveled through our doors at the museum. I had many of the veterans tell me personally how much they enjoyed the day and appreciated the fact that we would do such a wonderful thing for them.
Will and I got to spend some time visiting with some of our new found friends, such as Mr George Shade, Art Sulteen, and Bob Morgan. As always the time spent was fascinating, humbling, and enlightening. The degree of sacrifice and service that these men gave, as all our veterans have done and still do, to instill the peace and freedom that we all share today, is overwhelming.
We were about to take the group picture of the veterans when I heard a woman behind me say, "Is the picture for just the older veterans or can any veteran be in it?" I turned and said, "It's for all the veterans here today," and asked her if she was a veteran. "No, but my husband is, and we just lost our son in Iraq a few months ago." I took her husband's arm and said, "Please join our picture in honor of you and your son! We are so grateful and pleased that you are here." His wife and I spoke while the pictures were being taken and she told me how hard the day had been for them. They had just been out driving, and having never been to our museum, they thought about seeing if we were open. She spoke about how honored she felt to have her husband stand in that picture for her son and for him.
Veteran Art Sulteen and I spoke for a few minutes while he ate lunch and he talked about how much he appreciated our allowing him to come out to the museum and for having all of his fellow servicemen out yesterday. He said, "You know, there was a time when we all came back from the war that so many of us, like me, didn't feel like we fit in or had a place in the country, or in life anymore." "Now I don't feel that way. Thank you." On the tarmac while the pictures were being taken, his daughter shed tears with me when talking about how much she appreciated us all for what we have done in creating the museum and in having the gathering yesterday. She said she had seen more life come back into her father since he had been coming out to the airport and noted what good therapy it had been for him. She said, "As long as he picks up the phone and says 'Let's go to the airport,' I will bring him. You just don't know how much it means to him. Let me know if he wants to come too much" she said and laughed. I gave her my phone number and told them, "Anytime he wants to come, we'll be here." These are the words I heard over and over. Thank you, how kind of you, how nice of you to do this, what a great day, I haven't been treated so nicely in such a long time, thank you for remembering us. The whole afternoon was full of gratitude.
We really did a great thing by hosting the event and I want to thank everyone who came out to be a part of it. Mickey came out and helped inside the museum and did tours on the tarmac. Jim Rosemond changed his plans and was out early (I think around 10:30) and did tours with the planes. Jim Malcolm, although he had other obligations, came out and opened the A-7 Canopy so that our visitors could sit in the cockpit for us. Jeff Willhelm took a great number of pictures for us as well and I believe Jared got some too. I took about 90 pictures so we should have some really great shots to share and put into our scrapbooks. Oh and best of all Danny Linkous flew in with his (just bought) DeHaviland Tiger Moth and you can't imagine the excitement that the vets had over that. Next time any of you see him shake his hand and say thanks. I think it meant a lot to everyone who was there, including me and Will.
I have downloaded my pictures to a CD that I will leave at the museum. Oh, I can't wait to see the picture I had Jeff Willhelm do for me for the museum with the Tiger Moth against the Tomcat. That's going to be a fantastic picture! And last but not least, I want to thank Kyle for getting everything together for yesterday and for calling all the veterans and for asking Danny Linkous to fly in and attend. I know that he put a lot of effort and time into seeing that yesterday was a success. I am glad that Jeff Wofford was in town to be able to come. We have missed seeing him at the museum. I also want to say thanks to Tom for his help in the gift shop so that John and I can enjoy just "being there" and a little time off too. And thanks to Chris for coming out on weekends to do tours. Being apart of the museum has meant a lot to me and especially to Will and I want to say thanks to everyone for making us feel so much a part of everything the museum is and is doing for the community here.
Wow!!! Did you like Dee Henry's article in the paper today? I never expected to be quoted! She did us proud I think and I will write her a thank you for coming out.
Special thanks to Froggy Pete's for catering the event!