Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Good Day for Flags

It was a beautiful day for flags. Last night was cool but the day warmed up nicely when the sun came out.
The day could have been warm, but a steady wind out of the northeast, was strong enough to make the flag stand at attention and rattle against the flagpole.
Jilda was a little concerned that she'd overdressed and might get too warm by mid morning, but that breeze blew away her fears.
We had to be at the community center by 9:30 this morning to set up and test the sound system and make sure we knew how today's Veterans Program would unfold.
Thanks to our buddy Fred, who helped us put together a system that was simple to use, we were online in about 15 minutes.
I know I said yesterday that I wasn't making any more changes to my speech, but this morning I made one last revision which made the language simpler and easier to say.
Once the program started, Jilda and I played a few songs. She sang This Land is Your Land. People love that song and when we looked into the crowd, you could see people singing along.
When I started to play the second song, The Storm Brings Out The Eagle, Jilda tapped me on the shoulder to tell me I had the guitar capo in the wrong fret. I stopped playing and as I moved the capo I said to the crowd -- there are three kinds of people in this world.  Those who can count and those who can't. The crowd howled with laughter.
As I stood up to give my speech, Jilda leaned over and whispered into my ear -- breathe.
Then when I started talking, I led off with the joke I tested on you all a few days ago and again it clicked. I took a deep breath and the words flowed.
I rewrote a blog entry I'd written in January of 2006 called Forever Young. It's about my uncle Marvin Lee Ferguson who was died at Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. He was the first soldier from our county to die in WWII.
The only picture I have of him is when he was about 20 in his sailor uniform with his had cocked to one side. He was smiling at the camera. As I thought about the blog entry in 2006, I realized that Uncle Marvin Lee would be forever young.
The piece seemed fitting in my speech today because the Veterans Memorial Board had just installed a plaque with the names of soliders from our county that were killed in Vietnam.
The last line of the Forever Young story said -- On mantles all across America there are pictures of smiling faced soldiers that will be forever young. I could see in the faces of the crowd, that the words hit home.
To end the ceremony, the color guard who lowered the flag and did a 21 gun salute while a lone bugler played Taps.
It was a emotional day. Alabama may trail the rest of the country in a lot of things, but honor, and a sense of duty to our country are not among those things.
I was flattered and humbled to be asked to speak at this ceremony and I'm thankful I managed to pull it off without crashing and burning.
Y'all have a great Sunday.


  1. You did great, wish that every one could have heard your speech today, I was very proud of you!

  2. It sounds wonderful. Congratulations!

  3. Anonymous9:51 PM

    Could you post your speech in its entirity? I would love to read it.

  4. Anonymous9:52 PM

    Your post today made em laugh and in some parts sad too.Suppose life in few sentences.I knew you will pull it of.And great to have Jilda to watch over you:))

  5. I'm so glad it went well. I knew it would. You did everyone proud Rick.

  6. I knew you'd do brilliantly!! Hoorah for you and Jilda! Take care

  7. Thanks for this post... Holidays like days are good, a time to remember the people who have shed their life for whatever we have now... Hope we value them...


  8. Thanks Y'all.
    @Mybabyjohn/Delores we asked a lady who taped the event for a copy. I have a feeling she'll come through.
    If she does, I'll YouTube it and share.
    We got a shout out in the local paper this morning but we weren't in any of the photos :(

  9. Great line about being "forever young"

  10. I've live through 14 presidents and far too many wars and your "soldiers who will be forever young" really got to me. I know your speech was spellbinding. Cheers

  11. Here in New York, both Friday and Saturday were good days for the flag. Your post is touchy and fun at the same time.

  12. Anonymous11:15 AM

    Glad the speech went well. Must have felt good afterwards. Enjoy your Sunday!
    Greetings from Ireland

  13. Wow, it sounds so powerful. I'm so glad to see/hear so many tributes to our Veterans.

  14. I'm glad all went well. You had me laughing and getting misty eyed too. I'll be anxious to see the youtube if you get it. Now, you can sit back and enjoy the rest of your weekend!


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