Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thanks to My Home Town

EN ROUTE AUSTIN, TX – As you read this, I will be winging toward grandson, daughter, and son-in-law in Austin with yet more fond memories in my treasure chest of Lebanon.

I just had a whirlwind trip into and out of my hometown. As a result, I have many thanks for all of you good folks.

Previously, I have written of Lebanon being “Brigadoon” to me and the people here being “Dear Hearts and Gentle People.” I must now add “Americana” to the list of my reasons for continuing praise.

Last Wednesday, I watched Lebanon pay homage to the service of its veterans, and the Grand Marshall was Jimmy Jewell, my father. He rode Jay White’s 1921 Ford “Hack” at the head of the parade, smiling and waving, sometimes even standing on the running board and leaning out, hanging with one arm on the roof, waving to the crowds.
Martha and Tommy Duff, my sister and nephew, rode along.

Parade Perfection

The weather was November perfect. As participants gathered on South Hatton, I thought this was the way parades should be, more people oriented than extravaganzas as is often the case in the Southwest corner.

The reason for the parade was noble in intent and respectful in execution. Veterans were honored. Those who made the ultimate sacrifice were at the forefront as it should be everywhere.

High school bands (Lebanon and Watertown) gave the flavor one must have at such proceedings. Assorted motorcycles, antique cars, the Shriner’s miniature 18-wheelers, and local politicians in show cars – regardless of political leaning, one had to be impressed with Susan Lynn walking behind her vehicle throughout the parade – and the Castle Heights elementary group, all added to my sense of being somewhere long ago.

I appreciated the Junior ROTC units of Army, Air Force, Marines, and particularly the Navy, but missed the Castle Heights marching band and drill team.

Watching the observers was as heartwarming as watching the parade. They too were a slice of Americana.

The concluding ceremony was just right.

Sacrifice Honored

The recent sacrifice of SPC Jonathon O’Neill brought veteran’s contribution to the present when his family assisted in laying the wreath and unveiling the monument in front of the court house.

The Gold Star Mothers, women who lost children in their country’s service of spread the salute to veterans across the years.

Of course, brother, sister, and I stood proudly while Lieutenant Colonel Henderson read of my father’s contribution.

It was a feel good day.

A Special Supper

The previous evening rendered another special moment. When supper rolled around on Castlewood Lane, the original family of five sat at the same round oak table where we sat over fifty years ago. We could not remember when just the five of us had been together since those meals in the breakfast room on Castle Heights Avenue. We have gathered many times since, but a spouse, another relative, a friend or a next-generation member was with us.

The fare: meatloaf, fried squash, string beans with fresh onions, coleslaw, and biscuits with ice tea and chocolate pie for dessert (Grandma Specials, I call them).

Our family has been particularly blessed. There are not many families with three children born in the 1940s who can sit down and have a meal together just as they did over a half-century ago.

Giving Thanks

Thanks need to be proffered to those who made our supper, and more importantly, Lebanon’s tribute to Veterans possible.

Jim Henderson had a major role in every aspect of the parade, including the Grand Marshall selection. Jerry Hunt played a significant part in the choice of my father, and J.B. Leftwich was involved in the initial idea as well as contributing to the selection process.

Donna and Larry Odom and the other folks at Henderson’s Florist provided a chair for our mother to sit while watching the procession and a blanket to ward off the wind, a kind gesture not forgotten.

Of course, I also appreciate all of the participants, the onlookers, and the ceremony attendees.

Finally, I want to thank the City of Lebanon and American Legion Post 15, the parade sponsors.

My world is a little bit brighter, my appreciation of my home town has grown a little bit more, and my pride in veterans, including my father, has grown even more.

Thanks, Lebanon and you good folks who make it what it is.

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