Saturday, November 9, 2013
Saluting Our Veterans
As a daughter of a World War II Veteran, I salute all our Veterans, but this year I would especially like to thank our women Veterans. As you can tell from my old Town and Country magazine cover illustration above from February 1943, women in the Armed Services were once more of a rarity than today. Even so, over 500 American women during the Second World War lost their lives in service to their country.
Today, according to my online search, there are more than 200,000 women on active duty. Sixty-nine of them are generals and admirals! Many of you reading this probably know a woman in our Armed Services. May I tell you about one I met briefly who left a lasting impression on me?
This summer I was standing in line at a department store when I noticed that the beautiful petite woman ahead of me, wearing a tailored suit, was holding a fabulous white ruffled blouse. I, the shyest of women, spontaneously said, "Oh, what a beautiful blouse!" She smiled and said something about knowing she would enjoy wearing it as she wore suits to work.
The sales clerk who was ringing up another woman's stack of purchases said, "Don't you get tired of having to wear suits to work." My fellow shopper said, "Well, since I wore camouflage and combat boots to work for thirty-five years, I don't mind."
Immediately I thanked her for her service to our country and asked her where she had served. She named several places and then modestly mentioned Afghanistan. In fact, every sentence this woman spoke was said in a soft-spoken modest manner. She talked about her work in Afghanistan, and I responded emotionally, "Oh, I hope they can all come home soon." Probably babbling, I talked about all the news stories of men and women whose lives are forever changed due to injuries, those "Wounded Warriors."
She smiled sweetly, pointed to her chest and said something like, "That's one of my main jobs, to try to help them. I'm head of Veterans Affairs in Tennessee."
We continued talking until it was her time to pay for her ultra-feminine blouse, and I was conscious of having been so blessed by this conversation struck up with a total stranger that was so unusual for me. I would not have missed it for anything.
Of course when I got home I went to the website for the Tennessee Veterans Affairs, and there she was, my girly shopping companion. Col. Many-Bears Grinder, Commissioner of Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs! Oh, my goodness, I had been talking to a Colonel. What an honor and one I would have most likely missed if I'd known she was a Colonel because I would have been too shy to speak to her.
Here is a link that tells you more about this amazing woman, the first woman in Tennessee ever appointed to that post. Commissioner Grinder is an Operation Enduring Freedom combat veteran.
But she is a woman as well as a soldier and likes ruffly white blouses with her suits!
Don't forget to thank a Veteran soon and remember those who are no longer with us.
[Pictures are from TN Department of Veterans Affairs.]