Written by: Christopher Plein, Ph.D. West Virginia University and MFLN Military Caregiving Concentration
The 21 gun salute left me quiet and pensive. The volley was fired by a group of young student veterans, all in their dress uniforms and representing the different service branches. A Marine Corps League detachment, made up of elderly veterans, made the presentation of the colors. A procession of seven older Veteran of Foreign Wars members walked in line and slowly rang a ship’s bell seven times. The mast of a long ago retired battleship split the slate gray December sky.
I was not at a U.S. Navy Station, nor near any other defense installation. Rather, I was standing in a small plaza bordered by busy campus traffic at West Virginia University. Every year, on or around December 7, a special ceremony is held to remember those who gave their lives on that fateful day in 1941 at Pearl Harbor. The ceremony also recognizes all of the sacrifices made in the Allied victory in the Second World War and the service of all veterans across the years.
In 1963, the mast of the U.S.S. West Virginia (BB-48) was placed at West Virginia University as a memorial. This ship was among those moored at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. After the attack, and having received substantial damage from bombs and torpedoes, the U.S.S. West Virginia sank to the bottom of the harbor. In the months that followed, the ship would be salvaged, repaired and returned to active service for the reminder of the war.
Our memorials are often far away and distant from where we live. All too often, one senses that a similar distance exists between those in the civilian world and those in the military. As citizens, it is easy to take for granted the service and sacrifice made by those in the military then and now. For those of us who have not served, like me, memorials provide the opportunity to take time to remember. When those who have worn the uniform salute and those of us who have not place our hands across our hearts at a ceremony, we stand together.
The work of the Military Families Learning Network helps to bridge the gaps between the military and civilian worlds and to create a better understanding of the challenges, opportunities, and experiences that we all share. At the end of the year, I always try to take some time to reflect on what we do with the MFLN, and especially with the Military Caregiving concentration that I am part of. I think about how the webinars, blogs and other resources that we offer are readily accessible. Our efforts are aimed not only to those who help military families, but to all helping professionals. The resources that we prepare, and share are not only for military families, but for all families. We are all in this together.
We look forward to continuing our efforts in the year ahead. Best wishes for the Holiday Season.