Veteran’s Day

November 11, 2013

Oscar Blair at American Military Cemetery Normandy

Image and text by Gabrielle.

It’s Veteran’s Day! When we lived in France, we would mark this kind of occasion with a visit to the American Military Cemetery in Normandy. It was such an honor to visit that sacred place and learn the stories of the soldiers buried there. This year’s Veteran’s Day has me wondering if there is a military cemetery here in The Bay Area — I’m assuming there is, but I can’t think where it might be. Today will be a good day to find out.

I’m feeling so grateful for the remarkable military members in my life, and so glad we have this day set aside to honor them. Today, I’m specifically thinking of my brother-in-law Paul Rodgers. He’s currently serving in Afghanistan, while my sister Rachel cares for their children in Arizona. This is the 3rd time he’s been deployed to the Middle East. This deployment feels a little different because this is the very last deployment to Afghanistan — the brave military members serving there are all coming home as the U.S. removes its military presence from that country.

As you can imagine, the whole family is counting down the days till his safe return.

P.S. — I know so many of you are thinking about the soldiers in your lives today. Please feel free to share your stories! And anything special you might do to mark this day.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nora November 11, 2013 at 11:36 am

My Dad served for 3 yrs in England with the RAF (Royal Air Force) during the war. He was a pathfinder – a role that involved dropping flairs from the air to mark targets and then a second fly over to confirm hits. Dangerous and, I would think, a disturbing job. He never spoke of the war, ever. Until one evening I was sharing stories of a trip to Strasbourg where I climbed to the top of the huge cathedral in the main square. I asked if he knew this beautiful church. He blurted out, head bowed, that they were supposed to hit that cathedral on Christmas Eve but missed. And he was glad of that. I could barely speak after that. I don’t really understand what he went through.


2 Design Mom November 11, 2013 at 5:34 pm

What a moving story, Nora. Thanks for sharing.


3 Bambi November 11, 2013 at 11:49 am

I’ve never heart of veterans day- what a nice idea!

I am thinking of all the fallen soldiers in my Egyptian family today (I guess it’s okay to also celebrate non-American veterans on veterans-day?)

Love from Germany and a happy bee week:



4 Design Mom November 11, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Thanks for your comment, Bambi! Makes me curious which countries have similar holidays.


5 catK November 11, 2013 at 12:31 pm

hi..there is one in San Bruno (Golden Gate National Cemetery
1300 Sneath Lane, San Bruno, CA 94066)


6 Design Mom November 11, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Thanks for the info, Cat! So kind of you.


7 marian November 11, 2013 at 1:31 pm

We found out just today that Uncle Donny has left his forward operating base, the first step on the way home from Afghanistan! Needless to say we are so glad.

I have to say, it has been a humbling experience to have a family member serving overseas and I’ve been grateful for the the more personal connection as we try to teach our children about the bravery and sacrifice of our military and their families.


8 Design Mom November 11, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Yay for Uncle Donny!


9 Issa November 11, 2013 at 1:54 pm

There is one in San Bruno. Just south of San Francisco. My dad and step-mom once lived near it. The advertisement in the paper for that rental said something about really quiet neighbors. We still laugh about it.


10 Rea November 11, 2013 at 2:18 pm

We don’t have a Veterans Day in our country. It would have been great to honor all those military members who serve the country especially during the recent armed conflict in one of our islands.


11 Heidi November 11, 2013 at 4:24 pm

The Presidio in SF has a military cemetery!


12 Design Mom November 11, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Good to know, Heidi! Thank you.


13 Elle November 11, 2013 at 4:24 pm

There’s a beautiful cemetary in the Presidio right by the Golden Gate Bridge:
Definitely worth a visit!


14 Marie November 11, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Best of luck to your brother-in-law and hoping for a safe and speedy return home, but you do, um, realise that Afghanistan isn’t actually in the Middle east?


15 Design Mom November 11, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Do I have it wrong? Wouldn’t be the first time. Hah! I certainly don’t claim to be a geography expert, but Americans commonly refer to it as part of the Middle East. I checked Wikipedia after I read your comment, and the “Usage” paragraph seems to agree with me, but I noticed from your email address that you’re writing from the UK, so perhaps the region is referred to differently in your country?

If anyone out there has a definitive answer feel free to weigh in! If I’ve had it wrong all these years, it will be good to know the correct term. : )


16 ERedde November 12, 2013 at 12:01 am

I thought the same thing when I read the post. The correct term for the region of Afghanistan is Central Asia.


17 The Sentimentalist November 11, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Today my two young daughters and I walked a Veteran’s 5K with my father who served two tours of duty in Vietnam. His knees are almost worn out – and he walks with a limp – but we finished. I was and am so very proud of his bravery and courage!


18 Design Mom November 11, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Beautiful! What a wonderful way to celebrate.


19 Ann November 11, 2013 at 6:07 pm

My great Uncle Jimmy who was awarded a Purple Heart and was dropped into Normandy. He was buried about 5 years ago in Arlington National Cemetary. My Uncle Phil, who I call every Veterans Day to thank him for his service in Vietnam.


20 Gia November 11, 2013 at 8:52 pm

We visited the cemetery in the Presidio here in SF and talked about those who have served, what it means to serve your country and why we have this day. A few years ago we attended a very touching tribute to fallen veterans in Alameda, on a bright sunny morning, under a huge American flag, the group sang together, listened to some local names read aloud, and then there was a salute with firearms. My kids still talk about it.
Today our family also honors those who served in another way. My dad was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam war and served as a worker in a mental health facility instead of going to war. He served for two years in another way, so on veteran’s day we like to honor him, and those like him, who choose the path of peace as service.


21 Shannon { writer + editor } November 12, 2013 at 6:40 pm

My favorite Veterans Day story happened a couple of years ago. My father was drafted to serve in Vietnam and had a difficult time of it, like so many other young men and women. I don’t think anyone knew about PTSD and the soldiers just had to try and cope the best they could when they came home.

Years later, my daughter, who was in fifth grade at the time, wrote an essay about what patriotism meant to her, and it won a contest at her school. My father, along with many other veterans from our community, attended the ceremony and it made me cry to watch him being honored by his granddaughter. It felt like he had come full circle.

I’m so glad to hear your brother-in-law will be able to come home soon.


22 Leslie Call November 12, 2013 at 7:28 pm

We always try to go to the Veteran’s Cemetery every year, as well. But, this year we started a new tradition that we will definitely be doing every Veteran’s Day. We went to the VA Hospital in our area and visited with the residents in the assisted living facility. My boys gave the veterans little American flags and wished them a happy veteran’s day. It was an amazing experience and the residents were so grateful to have visitors. We all left feeling so great inside!


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