On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, I was standing in the grass in front of Grove City Hall facing the polished black granite Veterans' memorial, which was erected a couple of years ago by the efforts of my admirable friend, Ben Hynum, and a group of civic minded community members.
Dr. Wayne Shaw gave a stirring speech about the sacrifices of our men and women at arms, and the Veterans' Ritual Team fired a volley of rifle shots as a salute.
A wreath was placed to honor Grove citizen and veteran Charles Rowe.
Back in the late 90's when I was reporting for the Grove Sun, Charlie Rowe was a regular visitor to the newspaper office.
Then, as now, I covered Grove City Council meetings, and Charlie was on the council.
I always admired him, but one event at a council meeting stands out in my mind. The council was discussing whether to approve a motion to accept a town in Japan as Grove's "sister city." One council member was adamantly opposed to the move, stating that the Japanese had been our enemies in WWII and she saw no reason to be friendly with them now.
At that point Charlie spoke up, and I'll never forget what he said:
"I fought against the Japanese in that war, but I always go by the Good Book, and it says we're to forgive them, so I am in favor of Grove having a sister city in Japan."
It made me proud to know him.
But I digress . . .
As far as we know, human beings are the only creatures on earth who use symbol and tradition to give meaning and context to their existence.
In the case of people who have sacrificed safety, comfort, relationships or life in the service of our country, rituals become a poignant part of the healing process.
The Grove community does an especially good job of honoring its veterans.
And we have many venerable veterans among us. Men like Ben Hynum, mentioned earlier in this article, who served in WW II, the Korean War and the Viet Nam war, and who continues to serve our community in a variety of capacities. Men like Jerry Drake, whom many residents will recognize as the owner of Drake’s, but who also served in the Viet Nam conflict.
Veterans like Harold Smith and Roy Nugent who serve the Disabled American Veterans and who give up their time and resources to make sure that their fellow veterans are taken care of.
Veterans' Day is past now, but I would like to encourage everyone to say "thanks" to the veterans in our community – those who have served and those who continue to serve.
The other side of the coin
Today is Friday the 13th – a date that is symbolic for an entirely different reason than November 11th.
You might say Friday the 13th is infamous if you are superstitious.
I'm not superstitious, and I've personally never had any unusually bad experiences on that day.
Actually, one of my best birthdays ever fell on Friday the 13th.
Still, along with symbol and tradition, people seem to need something to be apprehensive about, and I suppose a date is as good as anything else.
A while back on another Friday the 13th there were two accidents within less than an hour on Highway 10 east of Grove near the airport.
When I later interviewed a police officer friend of mine about the accidents, I said, "Do you think this happened because it was Friday the 13th?"
I think the look he gave me was a look they teach in CLEET training because a lot of officers I know seem to have it mastered – the look that says, "You are a lost cause and I am not going to dignify that question with a response."
Well . . . I had to ask. It's my job.