Bargell: Veteran’s Valor
The cover photograph of Jack Cowger, a local World War II veteran, in Thursday’s SDN captured the essence of my vision of a veteran. Graying and a bit grizzled, Mr. Cowger represented an entire generation that went off to fight for our freedom in WWII. And even though their ranks are now dwindling, we do well to remember this great band of soldiers on Veteran’s Day.
It was, however, the picture of Mr. Cowger moved to tears appearing a few pages later that sparked a more recent memory of our servicemen and women. Just a few weeks ago, our family lucked into an event to honor soldiers at none other than Lakeside Bowl. OK, maybe it was not quite Wine in the Pines (coincidentally hosted on the same evening), but bowling in the basement had just as much heart. And, for a mere $50 bucks we bowled beside some of America’s finest.
The atmosphere at Bowling for Bravery was festive – music and laughter against the backdrop of the automatic pin resetting machine. What struck me was these were not the vets I envisioned in my mind’s eye like Mr. Cowger, and my pop. Instead of graying and grizzled, these vets sported everything from mohawks to really rad tattoos. I often could not tell the veterans from the locals who had gathered for a cold one on a Saturday night. Of course, sometimes they were one and the same. What struck me was how young, really young, most of the vets were, a new generation dedicated to service of our country.
Early on in the evening the veterans lined up and we had the chance to go through a receiving line to pay our respects. It was a rare opportunity to look these folks in the eye and say a personal thank you for their service. Our 10-year-old daughter went through the line with us, shyly shaking hands and saying hello. As she looked into the faces of the vets, many not so much older than herself, I think she recognized that soldiers are not some distant group of people who you read about in history books. Instead, they are the boys and girls at the bowling alley. Much to the delight of the kids there, some of the vets then recruited the youngsters to come roll the ball for them periodically throughout the evening. You could hear the young soldiers cheering wildly for the young bowlers; it made no difference that most balls hit the gutter sooner rather than later. The soldiers shared their lane and part of their lives, showing valor not just when fighting, but also when having fun.
And, if you did not catch the letter from Sandy and Amir Pambechy of Keystone in the same edition of the SDN, it’s worth a read. Not because it will make you cry (although it likely will), but because it outlines opportunities to support our soldiers now serving overseas. Summit County Rotary makes it incredibly easy to make a soldier’s holiday better. Just pick up an item at City Market and drop it in the wrapped barrel as you leave the store. Go ahead, buy that extra pound of coffee and drop it in – you’ll feel better as you walk out the door.
But, back to our soldiers. Mr. Cowger’s picture reminded me that he shares something profound with the young men and women at the bowling alley. That Saturday, when the bugle slowly sounded out “Taps” in honor of the fallen, the music echoed through the basement hall and through all of our hearts. And, these young veterans too wiped their eyes and stared at the flag with anguished faces – shedding tears of remembrance that transcend the generations.
Cindy Bargell lives outside of Silverthorne with her husband and two daughters. She is a card-carrying PTSA member, real estate and natural resources lawyer and part-time gymnastics coach. She welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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