Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day 2010 Three Different Salutes

Carnival Splendor & Allure of the Seas Events
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November 11, 2010  -  Veteran's Day 

First and foremost, today is the annual observance of Veteran's Day, a day set aside to honor the nation's veterans.   The main image in the picture above was taken at the American Cemetery in Normandy, France, on one of our cruises several years ago.    The image of row after row of crosses will never leave me.

Every day we go about our business, and I suspect most of us take our freedom for granted.   It isn't because we aren't caring people, but instead perhaps because we just don't think about it.  So I ask you today to take a moment to reflect on the veterans, living and deceased, for without whose service we wouldn't be the free nation we are today.

I have written about this in past blogs.  Read last year's post (or do a search for other articles):  Thoughts on Veterans Day for example.  This year I had some different thoughts.

Three Events Superimposed

As I prepared to write this column, it struck me that there were three events today that would get the majority of media attention.   In all cases, people would be gathered in numbers to watch the unfolding event, and the news media would be there with microphones in hand, cameras flashing and taping away to capture the moment in time.

On the left coast of the United States, Carnival Splendor arrived in the port of San Diego under tow.   We have been following this unfolding story from the time the fire broke out in the engine room until the safe return of the passengers, crew, and ship today.

We will hear stories about how unbearable the conditions were onboard the ship following the fire.   Granted, it wasn't the experience that people signed up for when they booked their vacation.

Contrast that to crawling up a beach under heavy enemy fire on a beach in Normandy or walking for miles through some jungle or mountain terrain with only MREs to eat.   For those that haven't heard the term before, MREs are meals ready to eat.  They come in pouches and vaguely resemble and taste like food.   (Ask a soldier what they would have given for a can of Spam or a Pop Tart).

We're sure there will be several stories that come from the Carnival Splendor ill-fated cruise.   There will be many unsung heroes, perhaps some of which used past military training to get them through the ordeal.  The stories that have surfaced so far have stated that the crew did a fantastic job dealing with the crisis and for that we salute them.

The military played an important role in days following the Splendor fire.   The USS Ronald Reagan provided relief services, dropping pallets of food on the deck of the disabled ship.   Coast Guard vessels escorted the ship back into harbor.  We salute those troops for their help and service.

On the right coast of the United States, Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas arrived in Port Everglades.   It wasn't under tow, but was escorted by tug boats shooting water in the air, the traditional salute to a ship entering the port for the first time.

Once again, there were crowds gathered, along with the media, to experience first-hand this moment in cruise history.   The mood was a bit more festive than on the other coast.   It was fitting that the W. Broward H.S. Marching Band performed a selection of musical pieces and displayed an American flag as part of the events to welcome Allure of the Seas on this Veteran's Day 2010.

Photo Credit: Tony Walker.

Vice President Joe Biden is assisted by Maj. Gen. Karl Horst, U.S. Army Military District Washington commanding general, during a Wreath-Laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns in the National Veterans Day Observance in Arlington National Cemetery.

President Obama didn’t visit Section 60 this Veterans Day. He was in South Korea visiting U.S. troops in Seoul. Vice President Biden made the trip in his place after laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

The acreage in Arlington National Cemetery, where many of the troops who gave their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan are buried, was busy anyway. As it always is on somber holidays. The sky was cobalt blue, many of the trees were bright orange and the air was crisp. Little boys darted between the white headstones decorated with stones, tiny pieces of colored glass, flowers, photos, letters and flags. Read more

Those words are spoken when the folded U.S. Flag is presented to the family at a military funeral ceremony.  Today let us all echo those words and say thank you.    There are many ways to become involved and say thank you in a very meaningful way.   Cruise lines offer discounts to military, including veterans.   Local organizations gather goodies to send to the troops currently serving overseas.   Volunteers help out at local VA Hospitals across the nation.   If you want to get involved personally, check out the VA Voluntary Service website for some ideas.