It started, on Friday, September 9, by my granddaughter, Amanda, throwing out the question, "Is it embarrassing or patriotic if I cry when the AF presents colors at the beginning of my business conference?" I'll venture quoting the folks since it was already on FB.
Manda's sister, Charly, chimed in, "I win! You did cry! see???
I took the question a bit more seriously, since I'm one of those folks who could cry at the opening of a pack of cigarettes. I wrote: "I cry at many flag ceremonies and see the tears flow from my Veteran/patriotic friends. So it's patriotic. I sure don't feel embarrassed. I broke into a weeping, boo-hooing mass when I went to the Traveling Vietnam Wall. Shed some tears at the Wall itself later in DC, but had it out of my system. Thank God you did cry for love of America! I know some great heroes, and they will shed tears unabashedly."
Sherry interjected, "Definitely patriotic! I don't think that's a darn thing to be embarrassed about!"
My daughter, Sue, allowed, "I think it's a family tradition!!! Patriotic & honoring your heritage!"
James declared, "It is definitely NOT embarassing Oorah, Semper Fi!" He looks handsome enough in his Marine Uniform with medals to convincingly use those words.
On Saturday, September 10, son, Hazen, who pulled a tour as a USAF Captain, Flight Nurse, told us, "The worst for me was when I did the funeral thing- flag folding ,taps and gun salute, I had to control my blubbering and I was conducting (the) service, lol. Never apologized or was embarassed though! Oh, btw, if I ever see a parade or something and certain high up in nation try to ban flag (colors) passing at beginning- ......wow can't say it here but you get idea."
Jacqueline opined, "Definitely patriotic! I don't think that's a darn thing to be embarrassed about!"
Sue asked, "Manda, remember watching changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? How about your Dad's retirement? Talk about tearful moments!"
I commented, "Yup! I get it, Haze! One story I can't even tell without blubbering is from DaNang. A Jolly Green Giant coming back from picking up a downed fighter pilot was flying down the runway at pattern altitude with two Sandies in V formation. I was walking to work along the parallel road. The PJs and copilot were holding Red, White and Blue smoke flares out the doors and window of the Jolly. At mid field, the Sandies peeled off to each side as the Jolly kept straight ahead, showing smoke. I just stood there and bawled. That meant "We got him!"
Sue wrote, "Dad, thank you for sharing."
Manda admitted, "Just reading, I tear up!"
Sue wrote, "That's my girl!"
I told them, "I tear up writing it. haha! I'm serious. It's as clear today as the day it happened. Even the sounds of two Sandies peeling off is firmly implanted."
Pete wrote a profound comment, "When I quit tearing up, THEN I'll be embarrassed!" That's from my dear son-in-law, great patriot, retired Lieutenant Colonel, and comrade to arms in Minuteman and USAF!"
Sue simply wrote, "My Pete!"
Pete added his own teary moment: "Had been in Russia for 2 weeks doing inspections. Standing on airport tarmac in Moscow as C-141 landed with that big ol' flag painted on vertical stabilizer. One of most beautiful sights I've ever seen. Not ashamed to say it was a bit blurry, though."
Sue admitted: "Heck, i don't even need the aircraft, just blue runway lights or a red-n-white watertower"
I had to write, "Well said, all of you. God Bless all. Never Forget! Maybe we should call those Patriotears!"
Manda responded, "Coin it - I love it!!"
On the morning of Sunday, September 11, grandson-in-law, Casey, a Fireman in San Antonio, posted: " I started my shift today by lowering the flag out front to half-staff. Please take a moment to remember and be grateful today."
His wife, granddaughter Charly, liked it and I wrote him, "Thank you for your service, Casey! Since Bloomberg has denied Firemen attending HIS political event at Ground Zero today, I figured your ceremony is at your flagpole is more significant."
Sue wrote, "Amen to that Dad!!" the added," Casey, I echo my dad in thanking you for your service."
Pete wrote, "And Casey, thank you for being the wonderful husband and father that you are. I appreciate you SO much."
I just had to add one more account. "I'm gonna add one other Patriotear moment about myself. I had a chance to fly my last Air Force mission in the backseat of an F-4 Phantom at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. Eight colonels in a 4 ship formation. Is that scary or what? We went out to the range and made a few passes them joined up to carry out an assignment. We were to fly over the Historic Clark Air Base Parade Grounds at an exact moment and do a "Missing Man Formation" for POW/MIA Recognition Day's ceremony that was going on below. A couple of years before I'd stood on that parade ground and received the Legion of Merit, First Oak Leaf Cluster, so it was already a fond place to me. And, an earlier Patriotear moment! I'd flown my first two Vietnam tours based out of Clark. I was in ship number 4. Exactly on time, we were over the field. My son, Hazen, was watching from the parade ground. On command, Ship number 3 pulled straight up and rolled left, out of the formation, and we continued across the field with the Missing man gap in the formation.. There I am, blubbering in an Oxygen Mask and trying to wipe my eyes. Yup, a Patriotear Moment!
This was such a wonderful exchange on this 9/11 weekend, seeing members of our extended family expressing their patriotic thoughts and remembrances. Thanks for the candor.
So, there it is, Amanda! "Patriotears" is coined for posterity. I'll copyright this to make it official unless some else can show me they have dibs!
© Colonel Curtis D. Dale, PhD USAF (Ret), SEPTEMBER 2011