2 spiral hams, one huge brisket, 20 pounds mashed potatoes, 10 gallons of gravy, homemade Parker House rolls (thanks Mrs. Grimes), gallons of green beans, corn, every imaginable salad, and pies. Dear God, the pies. So many pies.
We put on luncheons for our VFW members twice a month, cover the family meals when one of them passes, and pull out all the stops for them and their families on holidays. It's a festive time, and one in which the community pulls together.
What was missing? Sadly, our last WWII Veteran who passed last winter. Two Korean Veterans, one who passed away in January and one who is battling Parkinson's and wasn't able to attend. And one of our Vietnam Vets who succumbed to cancer last month. We paid tribute to them, they are loved and will be missed.
Sadly, we also had many, many new faces. Young faces fresh back from Iraq and Afghanistan; the next generation of Veterans of Foreign Wars. Yes, there was Desert Shield/Desert Storm between Korea and Afghanistan, and yes we have a few veterans from Desert Storm. However, not since Vietnam has there been the numbers of young men and women returning from a foreign battlefield, with wounds and scars, some visible, many invisible. Soldiers who aren't quite sure how or where to fit back into civilian life, who are carrying nightmares the majority of us will thankfully never know. And to see the Vietnam Veterans taking these young people into the fold, welcoming them as brothers and sisters in arms, instills a sense of pride and peace.
But as one of the guys so sagely said, "Man, let there come a day when there are no more new faces."
Last one out, turn out the lights.