Today is special. Veterans Day.
Last Sunday was special, too, but I forgot to tell you it was Loree Clarken's birthday. Likely you don't need help remembering today as Veterans Day.
Today, a 10:15 a.m. ceremony at St Edmond High School will give the public a chance to honor all veterans and to hear speaker Chaplain Steve Peters of the 133rd Test Squadron in Fort Dodge and the 185th Refueling Wing in Sioux City.
As part of the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center out of Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for seven months in 2011, he made certain of military honors for more than 235 fallen service members.
That's a war job few people think of, but it's essential. Listening to him speak would make today special indeed.
You can't talk about service people without the word special cropping up. I've met a lot of veterans and heard a lot of stories, and each is special.
Joining the military never crossed my mind when I was young enough to do it, and I'm not sure I'd have had the courage. It takes courage to take that step.
That's why I'm so proud to call Dawn Thompson my friend. We worked together for eight years before she decided Army life might be good for her and at age 35 took that step. She just returned to the states from her second deployment in Afghanistan, with a session in Iraq squeezed between. It's hard for me to call it a tour of duty since a tour, to me, is something fun.
Dawn, daughter of Vicki and Doug Thompson, of Otho, is back in Iowa for a few days before heading back to Fort Bragg, N.C. She can't tell me stories of her time overseas because most of it is classified. She's part of psyops - psychological operations - that's now called MISO - Military Information Supply Operations.
She does human domain analysis. That's what she said. When I looked confused, she said "it's like social sciences. How effective what you're doing is."
Who can ever know that?
For World War II soldiers like Loren Greiner, of Emmetsburg, it's easier to describe how effective their work was. After hellacious battles like the landing at Normandy, the United States and its allies could see their effectiveness, though the cost in fallen comrades could not be stopped.
Loren's 104 now, but his memory of service seems to get sharper every day. He writes about it, even draws maps of Omaha Beach. He's one man you would enjoy talking to. I promise.
He remembers the weather postponing the invasion and writes:
"The early dusk of June 4, 1944, had arrived. An invasion of the continent of Europe was now in motion. Ships filled with troops loaded with gear strapped to their backs were moving out of the South Hampton Harbor on the south coast of England."
Can you imagine the stress of waiting for the time to pass? He still owns the pocket watch he looked at as the invasion began.
Time brings memories.
So long friends, until the next time when we're together.
Sandy Mickelson, retired lifestyle editor of The Messenger, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.