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.]


  1. Good morning Sis, you told me about meeting this lady and your conversation. Wonderful random experience. Aren't you glad you researched her? Her service to her country is awesome.
    My last visit with my son, I was so impressed how wherever we were out shopping, eating, etc. if he saw someone with military attire even just a cap he would ask them if they served in the military and if so would shake their hand and thank them for their service. When I told him how nice that the does that he said of course he wanted to show his appreciation and also wanted to teach his daughters to appreciate them also. Awesome I think. So on this Veterans Day I pray more Americans realize the significance of the day.
    Great post, love u, Deb💟

  2. Hi Dewena; both my Father-In-laws were Veterans; Nick's dad served in the Korean War and his step dad was a WW II vet along with all his uncles...Uncle Sam was stationed at Pearl Harbor after the attack...when his brother's troop docked at port he was invited on the ship to spend time with his brother, I think it was Uncle Lou... Our Veterans today are quite amazing; they are sacrificing so much for our country ...I bow down to them!

    Great post :) Marisa

  3. We our these folks a great deal. My wife Jilda is a yoga therapist at a rehab place and her clients are mainly active military, many struggling with PTSD and addiction problems. She doesn't share specifics but she hears some remarkable (and some sad) stories.

  4. Dewena, what an amazing story! There you were, waiting in line, like you've done a thousand times before, when suddenly a nonchalant comment on a pretty blouse resulted in a planned post on appreciation of your veterans! I love stories like these! It just goes to show how one never knows how their day will turn out, even if they think they have planned it to the minute!

    Commissioner Grinder and countless othes risk their lives every day for their nation's freedom. The least anybody could do, is thank them, personally and with respect.

    Thank you for your wonderful narration; it is my bedtime story for tonight!


  5. Dewena, What an honor. She is truly one of the hard working women of our armed forces. Bless them all. xoxo,Susie

  6. Serendipity! I love it Dewena. :) Thank you for writing about Commissioner Grinder. What a lovely woman.

  7. Great story and a good twist for remembering our veterans are regular people who have chosen an extraordinary path.

  8. Shelley's school is bowling tomorrow with Veterans and attending the Birmingham Veterans' Day Parade. But she's had a cold, so I might keep her home.

  9. What a great story. I am so glad that you spoke to her. After having to wear suits for years in the insurance business, I can understand the desire to look feminine.
    My husband is a veteran and served for the Navy as a SeaBee, Construction Battalion.He had several tours of duty in Vietnam. He went in to clear the land in order that the troops could come in. He does wear a hat with the SeaBee emblem often when we are out shopping, and gets thanked for his service by many. One of the checkers at our grocery store knew immediately that Fred was a veteran as he was also one himself. Many of them seem to have a connection, They are both working today as they are in retail,
    We thank all of them today for their service to our country.

  10. How wonderful that you had the chance to meet such an important person! It's good to hear that occasionally a person is given a job that they are awesome in and do actually benefit others!!

  11. This is such a wonderful story. She is a remarkable woman, and so are you! Many of us would not have felt the impact of that conversation. We are always so busy accomplishing our little chores. You are wise to have listened and felt emotion when talking to a stranger in the department store. I would imagine that she was also touched by the stranger who, at the mere suggestion of her service, thanked her. I love that you did that. I'm willing to bet that you impacted her life too. Loved this story! laurie

  12. I also love the vintage Town and Country illustration.


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