My husband went to Iraq in 2007, a year when Veterans’ Day fell on a Sunday.
This might seem strange to you, but it never dawned on me that my husband — my attorney husband who joined the Army Reserves after 9/11 — could be called a “vet.” I mean, he’d been gone just a couple of weeks. Though I was pretty far from my high-school Latin class, I knew that the word came from vetus, meaning “old.” A vet, to me, was a person who had long service in the military, an old guy who seemed to stand more erect than anyone else when the national anthem is played before the high-school basketball game.
When I was getting the kids ready for church that Sunday, it never dawned on me that Veterans’ Day would affect me. In fact, as I struggled to get everyone ready for Sunday school, I wasn’t thinking about what day it was on the calendar.
However, I walked into Zion Presbyterian Church in Columbia, Tenn. holding the kids’ hands and realized that it was going to be even a tougher church service than normal.
Church was hard anyway. Something about walking into the old little building caused my social skills to simply disappear. Even casual greetings at church immobilized me. I detested the automatic responses which fall from everyone’s mouths — as if “How are you” is a quarter in the Presbyterian vending machine and “fine” is the conversational candy, all dusty and stale. It doesn’t matter if the dog died, the rent check bounced, or the in-laws are staying an extra week, it seemed the only appropriate response was “fine.” And, frankly, I wasn’t.
But since I could tell the conversations would go no deeper than lyrics to a Lady Gaga ballad, I lied.
But, because of the church, it somehow managed to be true.