Day is done

By the time Tuesday rolls around, I can’t remember anything of significance that happened over the weekend. But that’s because the way I live, nothing of significance usually takes place. However, this past weekend was an exception.

While the weekend didn’t involve a lot of action, it did involve a lot of significance. Essentially, I spent all of it doing Veterans Day things.

Friday was the spaghetti feed at the Elks Club, something I never miss. It’s a low-key affair, really. There’s the usual pre-prandial schmoozing, then a little ritual, then the dinner, then a couple of speeches, then some post-prandial schmoozing. And then we all slip away into the Adirondack night.

But of course that’s only a bare outline of the evening. What fills it in is a whole lot of warmth, kindness and camaraderie. The Elks knock themselves out taking care of us, making sure everyone is fussed over in the manner to which we are not accustomed. The food is good, the service is excellent, the speeches are blessedly short. And best of all, we have enough time to get some good visiting in.

I got to talk with Chief Don Fina, something I always enjoy but all too rarely do. I had a brief visit with my buddy George Bryjak. It was so brief, we didn’t even have time to kvetch about politics. Bucky Seney told me a great anecdote that I immediately wrote down in my notebook. And on and on – nothing important but everything significant.

I mentioned the great service at the dinner? It was provided by young ladies from the high school K Club, who volunteered their services because that’s what they do. They were so sweet and helpful, I almost felt I deserved all the attention.

Father Kelly was the speaker, and he did a fine, heartfelt job.

Frank Camelo was the dinner’s master of ceremonies and director of anxieties, as he is every year. Basically, Frank is a one-man recruiter, organizer and talker-upper for the dinner and always worries about it being a success, which of course it always is.

My highlight of the dinner was that three guys from the Paul Smith’s Veterans Club came – something we all appreciated. The sad fact is most of the vets going to the dinner (and a lot of the other activities) are old. OK, so we’re not old in a geological sense, but by any realistic measure, we’re long in the tooth. So young guys showing up is cause for hope. Frank called attention to the PSC vets, and they got a round of applause, which they well deserved.

That was Friday.

Saturday was my day of rest, because Sunday was a birthday. Not mine, but the Marine Corps’ 238th. So I got in touch with my pals who were jarheads, and thought of the one I can no longer get in touch with – Brother Hal Wilson.

Monday was the ceremony at our town hall.

I’d never been to it before because I was always working. But this year my schedule allowed it, so I went. And I had the best company with my Army vet pal, Brother Ron Burdick.

The ceremony was simple, solemn and short. Nothing was belabored or overdone, and it ended touchingly, with two trumpeters playing “Taps.” It was exactly as dignified as it should’ve been.

And that, dear reader, was my Veterans Day weekend.

Sensational? No.

Significant? Yes.

The Last Word on the weekend and all it represents was had in a talk with one of my Navy pals.

After the town hall ceremony, I got in touch with Cliff Estes, my best friend from A school, back in 1969.

“You know,” he said, “it’s gonna be 45 years, and I can’t believe I still get emotional about it. It’s weird.”

“Well,” I said, “I think it’d be a whole lot weirder if we didn’t get emotional about it.”