Free to BE You and Me

 It’s Memorial Day and I am married to a veteran.  We take the time to reflect and remember that our freedom to BE is a gift from those families who chose to sacrifice and give of themselves and we are grateful. 

Today we celebrated with veterans in Santa Clara and smiled at Denny and his wife Marilynne who shared stories with us as we admired their courage and history in serving our country.  I loved this moment and loved their hugs and kisses. There was an instant connection through our gratitude and recognition of their service and I was touched by our spontaneous interaction.  I wanted to hear more of their story. Denny teased me and handed me his biography. He was decorated with several honorable medals, including a Purple Heart and a Navy Cross. He was a true gentleman and I admired his pride and character.

   
     

We are thankful for our veterans and their families, especially PopPop and MamMam, Algin Hughes and Elaine Hughes.

Life is good and we thank you, veterans. xoxo

Veteran’s Day – Veterans and Honor

We had the best conversation with Jeff’s 94 year old Granddad tonight to honor him on Veteran’s Day. The kids and I called him and he shared that he was asked to speak at the Air Force academy because they wanted to talk with someone who knew General Patton.  Colonel Hughes worked with Patton and even had dinner at his house.  I’m sure the cadets were in awe meeting and hearing first hand from a WWII Legend, who is so humble and inspiring.

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He told us that he was also asked to share his knowledge about the West Point Honor Code as the cadets at the Air Force Academy also had a code of conduct that they held high and were required to enforce amongst themselves and their peers.  I shared with him that I chose to marry my husband and his grandson for several reasons, and one of these included his sincere regard for the honor code that he believed in and practiced during his days at West Point.  The honor code is like getting a receipt, that you’re marrying an honest and trustworthy person that is honorable to himself, to his peers and to his country. I was hoping that these principles would apply to marriage as well, and I was right.

I think that if we all upheld an honor code and knew that we shared this code of honor in our communities, we would be a much happier lot of people.  Below are the honor codes from the various US Service Academies:

Honor Code from West Point:

“A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.”

Honor Code at the Air Force Academy:

“The bedrock of moral and character education at the United States Air Force Academy begins with a internalization of the cadet honor code. This code was created by cadets and is owned by cadets. They are responsible for maintaining the Code as well as for the process by which those who break it are assessed. The Code is based on a fundamental, positive principles of honesty, respect, fairness, and support.

Understanding the Code

Honor Code: We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.

Honor Oath: We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.  Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and to live honorably, (so help me God).

Spirit of the Code: Do the right thing and live honorably.”

Honor Concept from the US Naval Academy:

“Midshipmen are persons of integrity: They stand for that which is right.

They tell the truth and ensure that the full truth is known. They do not lie.

They embrace fairness in all actions. They ensure that work submitted as their own is their own, and that assistance received from any source is authorized and properly documented. They do not cheat.

They respect the property of others and ensure that others are able to benefit from the use of their own property. They do not steal.”

Happy Veteran’s Day to all those who have lead and served and sacrifices for our freedom. Thank you.

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Was Your Memorial Day Memorable?

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Who did you remember?

What gratitude did you feel?

Did you celebrate the day with loved ones?

We shared the day in Colorado with Jeff’s family before flying back to California. We were thankful to be able to be together and to honor PopPop, who wore his World War II Veterans cap.

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He had so many stories to share and our kids had connections to make from their travels abroad to places where he had served. History came to life and was tangible. Everyone was engaged and happy to be together.

We also spent some time at the Air force Academy in Colorado Springs, admiring the air show and beautiful views.

Thank you Aunt Debbie and Ken, Megan and family, and PopPop for spending time with us. We loved being with y’all!!

Happy Memorial Day!

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Memorial Day Weekend in Colorado

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I love the miles of clouds in the sky and watching how the sky changes throughout the day.

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Today we spent time with Jeff’s family in the Black Forest. I loved the open space and being outside. The kids had a great time playing together in the open fields, chasing the alpacas, throwing balls to the dogs and playing hide and seek. They had rocket balloons that they shot up into the sky and over the house, getting them stuck in the trees.

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While the kids played, the adults sat on the back deck, listening to music, eating chips and dip and sharing conversation while playing with the new baby. Ken barbecued for us and we enjoyed tri-tip, baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad and watermelon for dinner. For dessert, we ate chocolate and vanilla ice cream.

This was a perfect, all-American way to spend the day.

Today I am thankful for family, for open spaces, for kids being kids, and time to relax and just hang out.

Life is good.

Thank you PopPop and Jeff for serving our country and for fighting for our freedom. We seriously live the good life because of your service and sacrifices and the sacrifices of all veterans and their families.

Thank you. Happy Memorial Day!

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Colorado

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I love the open space and tall mountains of Colorado. If I had to pick another state to live in, I might choose here. I love seeing the clouds and blue and grey skies and green fields.

We are here to celebrate Memorial Day with Jeff’s 93 (almost 94) year old grandfather and to remember his grandmother, who would have turned 90 today. Happy Birthday, MamMam. It’s so strange to be here without you. I didn’t want to sit in your chair and am feeling the emptiness of you not being with us. Still thankful to be with Aunt Debbie and PopPop and looking forward to a fun weekend together with Ken too and Megan and her family.

Happy Memorial Day weekend.

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Day 298: Freedom Isn’t Free

War. Evil. Tyranny. Hate.

Nobody likes it, but it exists.

Yin and Yang.

My generation really felt it on 9-11 and we felt it again at the Boston marathon, just recently. Jeff’s grandad felt it and lived it in 1944, and survived WWII. He is a hero.

To visit the war sites around Normandy leaves you wondering and thinking and imagining what it could have been like for the soldiers and their families. The sense of fear and loss is unimaginable, even when you see it. History is not my passion yet I know I need to understand and learn more and continue to make the connections. I also like to focus on the positive, but I’m not naive. There are bad people and we cannot allow evil to be stronger than the good.

“For no one is to forget the heroism of those men who defied the impossible for our freedom.”

Freedom isn’t free. We have so much to learn from those who serve in our military. These men and women can teach us what it means to be selfless, to sacrifice, to keep moving forward despite the struggles, to be disciplined and compassionate, focused and respectful. The people that fought for our freedom gave up their freedom, the comforts of their homes and families, to serve others. And so many gave up their lives.

We can be advocates of goodwill. We can create peace in our time by following their examples. We can and should serve others and show compassion and be a little less self centered. By giving of our time and resources, we can help create peace in our time, right now.

How can we be of service? I think when we chose to serve others we actually create joy and peace for ourselves as well. We have nothing to lose.

Today we visited Grandcamp Maisy, Ranger Museum, Maisy Battery, Utah Beach, and St. Mere Eglise. We also saw Brecourt Manor. Here are a few pictures from these historical sites.

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Wishing you peace and love.

Goodnight, from Mont Saint-Michel.

Day 297: Normandy, France

20130518-230002.jpgWe made it to Normandy this afternoon. The sun was finally shining again, which helped to improve my mood. I’ve been grouchy for several reasons. I am homesick and sick and a bit tired. Kimmy’s graduation is today and I want to be there and not where I am. My volleyball girls had a weekend getaway and I missed it! I feel torn today and down, and it’s taken me longer than usual to snap out of it.

I have to really practice being present today and its been a struggle. Just keeping it real. I helped myself by thinking of Jeff’s granddad and the other soldiers who were probably so uncomfortable day after day, fighting the Germans, and all the sacrifices they had to make. Seriously, I have nothing to complain about and my discomfort is kinda stupid. I’m over myself… Just like that. Thanks for listening. 🙂

We started our day at Omaha beach, after a long drive from Lisse. We landed and walked on the beach, imagining the hell that others experienced there and not quite comprehending it all.
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After Omaha Beach, we drove to see the American Cemetery on the bluffs above Omaha Beach. That takes your breath away. Seeing all the headstones makes the numbers of casualties pop out at you and you can feel the sheer magnitude of loss and the human sacrifices that were made to fight evil.

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We walked through the entire field of headstones, noticing when people died, what state they were from and what their names where. We noticed how many more Christians than Jews were buried there.

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And we imagined PopPop fighting with the allies through Europe and are so thankful he survived the battle. We looked at the wall maps and Jeff pointed out the areas where PopPop landed and traveled with the 3rd army through France and Germany. Thank you PopPop for your years of service and thank you MamMam for keeping the family strong and together.

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While there, we ran into our friends and enjoyed sharing stories and our experiences so far. I was so happy to see them and can’t believe we were at the same place at the same time. We made plans to meet up for dinner afterwards in Bayeux.
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But before we got to Bayeux, we checked into our hotel and went to see Pointe Du Hoc.

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This is where the US Army rangers scaled the cliffs and seized the German gun emplacements. The kids loved this area because it was on the edge of the ocean and was filled with craters and bunkers that they could run around in and on top of.

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It’s crazy to think that the craters were created by bombs and naval gunfire.
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I finally snapped out of my funk at PDH. The kids were happy to be running around and exploring the craters and bunkers and I enjoyed watching them play. I think being near the ocean helps too! The views were gorgeous and calming.

We drove 30 minutes to Bayeux and met up with Bob and Greg for a late dinner. Bayeux is a magical town, and we arrived in time to catch some love entertainment both before and after dinner. I’ll leave you with a few pictures from the end to a great, long day.

Happy graduation day, Kimmy!

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Goodnight, from France.