Veteran's Day, 2011. We woke up early this morning because this is a day that Donavon has been looking forward to for a few weeks now. His clothes are hung up from the night before and the house is still and quiet. The alarm goes off and so does Donavon! Off to the races. Into the shower, and on to the rest of his routine. Yet today is different from his daily routine. Today is Veteran's Day. He stands there in his tighty-whiteys, waiting for me to help him assemble the uniform that makes him smile from ear to ear with pride, his Royal Ranger uniform.
We start with the basics. The white T-shirt with the logo. Then he slips on his pants and belt. He pauses to ask me to make sure it is straight and tucked in properly. "Rangers are clean!" he says. Once that is assembled, he slips on his socks and shoes. They have been wiped clean so that there are no scuffs! He puts on his beloved bolo tie! It's more valuable to him than a solid gold chain because he worked so hard to earn it! He slips on his vest, stopping to let me help him straighten it. I keep his Khaki shirt and beret for safe keeping, until the ceremony!
He is completely assembled and goes downstairs to get his breakfast and his medicine. As I'm getting things put together, he quietly tells me (while bouncing a bit on his toes), "I want to do good at the ceremony so make sure I have all my medicine." I smiled with pride and said, "Donavon, you will do great! I am so proud of you!" After eating his breakfast, we prayed and hugged as he went out the door with Daddy, to drive to school.
We all arrived together about ten minutes before the ceremony, just as Donavon was coming down the hall. We gathered around him, Commander Ed, Daddy, and myself, and helped him get his khaki shirt on over his t-shirt, his bolo tie back on, his vest back on, and his beret centered and poised! Time enough to take a picture and head into the gym! I had a slight tear in my eye as he walked a little taller, with a big smile on his face!
The service was great. He sat so well and even told us what he remembered from the service that we all had just observed! The compliments, after the ceremony, came from his principal, choir director, and teacher with each one causing his smile to grow even bigger.
For those who do not understand how a small Veteran's Day ceremony, at a small elementary school could do so much. Let me tell you. For Donavon, it takes longer to earn the patches the other boys are working on. It takes more concentration and effort, on Donavon's part, to sit still. It takes a huge amount of thought to make sure he does not soil his uniform, scuff his shoes or look disheveled in his clothes. Donavon has worked twice as hard as an average child to earn every piece of clothing, every patch on his vest, and the pride that it brings. But, Donavon has persevered. He is proud to honor the veterans in this way. It is his way of showing that, their fight for his freedom was not in vain! It is his way of showing that he too can fight for what he believes in and see it through to the end, no matter how long it takes. And that is what this great day was all about and made all the other days of incalculable stress, work, and struggles worth it! The pride of a fight well fought!
To the veterans who fought for this freedom, we are eternally grateful and pray for you constantly!