Words can be engaging, as one dives into a new book, or informative, as one comprehends written words of knowledge. Famous words strung together — such as ”ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” spoken by John F. Kennedy during his inaugural address in January 1961 — are forever recorded in the notes of history.
As this column appears in print, our nation will be observing Memorial Day weekend. This is a time to reflect and say “thank you” to all the men and women who have served our country.
Those humble words — thank you — have the power to bring a smile to a veteran’s face or an acknowledging tear to a grieving soldier’s family.
Last week, I caught up with a local veteran, Joe Podrasky, while I was reporting on a story taking place within the Little Arlington section of the Tracy Cemetery. When I asked Joe about his service in the Air Force and what it meant to hear the words “thank you,” he was immediately overcome with emotion.
“Those words mean so much,” said Podrasky, a veteran of the Korean War. “Thank you to the ones that sacrificed their lives for us. I think about Pearl Harbor, those that didn’t even have a chance and I’m also so thankful for being here. It’s nice to instill in the young ones Memorial Day and to teach them to say thank you.”
Growing up in a military family, I have learned great respect for the men and women that serve our country and am thankful for all they have given.
This Memorial Day, the community will have the opportunity to say those emotional words of thanks to our local veterans. The Tracy Cemetery, 501 W. Schulte Road, will host its annual Memorial Day Ceremony at 10 a.m. May 27. During the ceremony, wreaths will be presented at the gravesite of the Unknown Veteran of Past Conflicts. Rep. Jeff Denham, U.S. Air Force veteran, will be the keynote speaker at the ceremony.
Traditionally, many service groups, such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, have been a part of this annual event. Members of such groups will often help put American flags by each veteran’s grave the Saturday before Memorial Day.
“We do this out of respect for our veterans,” explained Rob Costa, who is the committee chairman for Boy Scout Troop 525. “This is a way to say thank you and that we support them and their sacrifices.”
Girl Scout Troop 1119 Leader Cindy Silligman has been a part of this event for the past 11 years now. Silligman originally started when her daughter was in kindergarten, and today, her daughter is a sophomore in high school.
“The Girl Scout promise includes the phrase ‘to serve my country,’” Silligman said. “Honoring our veterans, both fallen and those still living, is one way we can serve our country.”
As we reflect this weekend and remember our veterans, let us not forget the sacrifices they have made for our country and their families. The price of freedom is not free — but the simple act of speaking one’s thanks is. For our veterans, the humbling kindness behind those two words is priceless.
Thank you, veterans — this weekend we honor and remember you.
Today’s column is dedicated my grandpa, a World War II veteran, who died two months ago. Today, Grandpa, I remember your service to our country and our family. Gone, but never forgotten.
• Columnist Anne Marie Fuller is the television host of “Helpful Hints with Anne Marie,” which can be seen on Cable Channel 26 at 7 p.m. Fridays. She is also the chairwoman of the Tracy Arts Commission and holds the title of Mrs. Central California. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.