By Sophia Zarifis-Russell, Reference Assistant
Sedona AZ (November 10, 2017) – As a Gold Star Mother, my perspective of Veterans Day has changed. Before my son died in Afghanistan, it was just another holiday. Sometimes, I bought a poppy outside the local supermarket. Now, I spend Veterans Day much differently. I make it my duty to visit my son’s grave. To me there is nothing as sad as a neglected grave. This Veterans Day I would like to encourage and inspire each one of you to use this day to solemnly remember the sacrifices made by our valiant service men and women.
As a librarian, I would like to mention that the library will have a display of books, movies, and audiobooks chosen by staff to commemorate this day. Furthermore, I would like to highlight the Veterans History Project (VHP) organized by the Library of Congress. This is a remarkable project in which veterans tell their personal accounts, to ensure, according to the Library of Congress website that, “future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.” (www.loc.gov/vets/vets-home.
Speaking with Jolene Pierson, Sedona’s VHP coordinator, I asked for a few recommendations for interviews, and I chose to listen to Douglas McDaniel’s story. McDaniel served in the Air Force from 1963-1985 retiring with the rank of major. He was employed primarily as a navigator for 17 years on C-141 planes and afterwards as an aide-de-campe. In this day and age, where so much of our information is influenced by the movies we watch, it really hit home the importance of this first-hand account. He recounted many stories, some humorous, some sorrowful, and many with down-to-earth wisdom. In his interview, he described himself as lucky beyond belief, and he summed up his experience saying he was surprised at how much he wanted to tell his story. Describing a humorous account that occurred during his year in Vietnam, when the television series CHiPs (California Highway Patrol) was quite popular, McDaniel described his own time on CHiPs, but this stood for “Cambodian Highway Patrol.”
You can meet some of the veterans who have contributed to the VHP at the Library’s Coffee with a Vet program, which takes place in the Si Birch Community Room on the second Friday of the month. This informal gathering is open to all veterans and those who would like to chat with them. Upcoming “Coffee with a Vet” programs are November 10, and December 8; from 10:00 a.m. to noon each day.
I also want to remind you of community events taking place where we can show our gratitude and respect to veterans. The Sedona Heritage Museum and City of Sedona join to present an annual Veterans Day Tribute every November 11, at 11 am. The day begins with the flag ceremony, dignitaries, and a veteran’s tribute. After the program, there is food and entertainment. All veterans and active military personnel will be honored and are invited. This event is free and open to the general public.
The City of Prescott will have a parade on Veterans Day at 11:00 a.m. after a brief ceremony at Courthouse Plaza. The theme this year is, “Honoring All Who Have Served: Let Us Never Forget.” Please note that the Veterans Memorial Plaque located at the Plaza was updated in 2016 with the names of those who have recently sacrificed their lives.
Needless to say, on Veterans Day or any day, a visit to the National Memorial Cemetery in Phoenix, on Cave Creek Road, or in Prescott, on 500 North 89A, is a heartfelt gesture that can bring perspective to the number of veterans who have served this country.
My aim is to evoke a sense of importance for this day, and these are just a few ideas. While retail sale opportunities abound, perhaps these suggested activities and our recommended books are something you will consider this Veterans Day. I leave you with a quote, attributed to Reverend Randolph Harrison McKim:
Not for fame or reward
Not for place or for rank
Not lured by ambition
Or goaded by necessity
But in simple
Obedience to duty
As they understood it
These men suffered all
Dared all – and died