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It was June 5, the evening before the 70th anniversary of D-Day. I couldn’t believe it: I was at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., on the eve of this incredible anniversary of that event. To add to the moment, I was with my friend, Bob Bender, a World War II Navy veteran. Bob began to share one of his war experiences.
“We can never get him to tell about the war,” Bob’s wife, Barb, shared.
I recognized I was in a very special moment even before Bob began to share his story. How more special could a moment be than this? To be at the World War II Memorial in our nation’s capital with one of the men who fought in that war. I got goose bumps realizing that I was at a very special time and place with very special people. It was a treasured moment for me.
Bob and Barb Bender and I were with a group of people from Sheridan who traveled to Washington, D.C., this June. From our very first flight on the trip, I followed Bob and announced to people as we passed, “He’s a World War II and Korean War veteran.” Yes, I realize I was being a geek but I wanted everyone to know the very special person that could pass them by without them knowing who he was. I suppose folks forgave my geekiness: from pilots to flight attendants to strangers on the street, many said to Bob “Thank you for your service.”
At the World War II Memorial, I announced to a group of middle school students: “This man is a World War II veteran.” I could tell they were in awe of him. Several came up to Bob, shook his hand and thanked him for his service. I think one young girl may not have been older than 11 years. What a tribute. I decided to keep up the geeky announcements for awhile longer during the trip.
Bob was not the only veteran in our group. Dick Green, another of our traveling entourage, served in Vietnam. Dick brought the names of two young men from Sheridan killed in Vietnam: John Aldrich and Gary Fox. Our tour guide located their names on the Vietnam wall and our group gathered around. Dick took rubbings of their names as our group shared what they knew of John and Gary’s lives, their families, their childhood and their plans for their futures. Having the group from Sheridan share who these two young men are transformed them from names on a wall to the people they were. Our tour guide shared how the stories of their lives touched her. It was truly another goose bump moment not only for me but I think for many of our group.
When you know you’re in such a special place that the goose bumps run up your arms or when you think of a special moment and the goose bumps come back, well, you just had a goose bump experience.
Goose bump moments can happen to each of us at any time. The gift is in knowing when you’re in the moment. Recognize your goose bump moments, enjoy them and cherish your goose bump moments whatever they are, whenever they happen to you.
Guest columnist Lois Bell is the Communications Director at the Sheridan Senior Center. “Center Stage is written by friends of the Senior Center for the Sheridan Community. It is a collection of insights and stories related to living well at every age.”