Every year, my husband and I spend the Veterans’ Day weekend at an undisclosed location with a herd/pack/assemblage of his Army buddies (both male and female), most of whom served in the same Army Reserve unit. Our wonderful hosts shall also remain unnamed, lest they be incriminated. It’s a tradition.
Generally, attendance runs anywhere from 20 to 50, including spouses, a few children and grandchildren, and some well-loved, if not well-behaved, dogs. This reunion began in 2009 and has continued, without fail, every year since then. Nothing stops the gathering—to borrow from the US Postal Service creed, “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” nor global fake pandemics nor Democrat Presidents.
Most of the attendees are officers, a handful are West Point graduates, and a smaller handful are Army Rangers. Since 2009, two members of this august group have been laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. As you are reading this article, we are more than likely on our way to this year’s gathering.
Rituals are an important part of the weekend. There’s food—lots of food: Cece’s cookies, Barbara’s sausage dip, B’s baklava. We’ve had Cuban food, barbecue, and Low Country boil. It’s a tradition. The food is so awesome that last year, a cookbook was created with some of our favorite recipes.
At some point, there’s a group photo, and someone always complains because he/she was left out. Another tradition.
The ladies play a card game on Saturday night—nobody loses. It’s a tradition.
There’s a fire pit, a few cigars, and a good great deal of alcohol. It’s a tradition.
As you may imagine, there’s a lot of laughter, an occasional tear, and the same stories are told (and embellished) every year. Again, tradition.
Some of the stories even have names—I could share these stories with you, but then they’d have to kill me and you both. This gathering has become an important part of the history and culture of this Band of Brothers.
In Biblical times, history and culture were learned through the traditions of religion and family. Although we can thank the scribes and prophets and apostles for the written history that became our Holy Scriptures, more often than not, the histories were oral, passed down from generation to generation through repeated stories.
History and rituals are a foundation for any group, and that includes your own family group. As we enter into the holiday season, let’s remember to slow down and recognize those traditions and rituals and stories, happy and not-so-happy, that make us a part of the group.
And don’t forget to thank a veteran, and then offer up a prayer:
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)