Parents looking for "teachable moments" could not do much better than to take the family to Leesburg's Lone Oak Cemetery next Saturday at noon. There, each branch of our country's military will be honored locally as part of a national wreath-laying event which began in the ol' radio warrior and LZ Lakehawk host Ron Bisson's home state of Maine.
Congressman Daniel Webster will be the guest speaker with retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Michael Kohl serving as master of ceremonies.
Ceremony coordinator Glorianna Fahs reports that 54 individual wreaths designated for specific veterans have been ordered, plus another 350 which will put a dent in the cemetery's veteran population of 600.
"We don't have a wreath for every single grave yet," Fahs said. "But it's a start."
America's Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action will also be remembered at the gathering, which includes the Honor Guard from Mount Dora's Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8081 and Leesburg High School's Air Force Junior ROTC unit.
More than 1,400 communities nationwide will be simultaneously participating in the observance, which is now in its 26th year and was unanimously approved by Congress in 2008.
The cemetery is located at 306 Thomas Avenue. Those wishing to contribute to the program, including volunteering or defraying the cost of wreaths, may contact Glorianna Falls 352-787-5969 or Midge Dodge at 352-326-9085.
Yesterday was, of course, Dec. 7 — the day FDR accurately predicted would live in infamy. In 2007, I was privileged to visit my daughter Roxanne's family at Hawaii's Hickam Air Force Base where my son-in-law Chris, now a senior master sergeant, pointed out the bullet holes in the building where he worked.
The old Army Air Corps' decision to leave unrepaired the stark evidence of strafing by enemy aircraft impressed upon me their good example of remembering. And of staying vigilant.
Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association business had me at the Pentagon earlier this week. Among the always-poignant moments was being in the company of retired mustang Maj. Fred "Flash" Lash, who recalled with great respect — and joy — his frequent interactions with the late President George H.W. Bush.
And the main meeting we were there to attend was held in the "Major Megan McClung Conference Room," named after the ball-of-fire PAO who, in Al Anbar Province in 2006, was the first female Marine Corps officer killed in combat during the Iraq War.
From the pen of LZ Lakehawk Chaplain, Altoona's Lt. Cmdr. (CHC) Bob Haines, USN (ret): When I was a wee lad, I enjoyed getting Christmas toys. My father, a World War II veteran, and mother could afford to buy toys for my brother, sister and I for Christmas.
Like many privileged kids around the world, we loved getting up on Christmas morning and hurrying into the living room and seeing the toys. And it was a neat experience as a parent watching my own children do the same thing.
Recently I was privileged to ride my motorcycle in the Gator Harley 15th Annual Toy Run; all it cost me was a new toy and $10.
It was a miserable, rainy day for the ride, so it was not much fun. The road was wet and we hit a few rain showers. Any bike rider knows that riding in the rain is not fun at all. It would have been really nice if it had been a warm, sunny day.
Was I cheerful? To be honest, not as cheerful as I could have been. But, was it worth it? You betcha it was — because I know that some needy child somewhere will get and enjoy playing with the toy I bought.
What are you doing for Christmas? What are you giving? Well, you may not be a biker on a toy run, but have you thought about giving something for others less fortunate? Can you find a project to donate to?
Sure you can.
Check around where you worship, or maybe charity organization with a project to make some kid’s Christmas better. You’ll be glad you did and perhaps a bit more cheerful this holiday season.
“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver." — 2 Corinthians 9:7
Keith Oliver is a veteran of nearly 30 years' Marine Corps service. Contact him via LZLakehawk@gmail.com. And listen to the LZ LAKEHAWK radio version Friday mornings at 8:30 on the Ron Bisson Morning Show at AM790 WLBE.