Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Paul Richardson: A Father's Day weekend I'll never forget

(Paul Richardson's column, The Horse I Rode On In, runs weekly in the Neosho Daily News, Seneca News-Dispatch and on the Turner Report.)

Apparently, I missed another opportunity. It is always after-the-fact when I realize that another calendar event has passed me by, and I did not use the event as a subject for an article.

When I sit in solitude contemplating subject matter for writing opportunities, I always think that upcoming events can be fodder for the mill. I can get out my best greeting card lines and other quaint euphemisms and prepare something just for the special day. Then before I realize what has happened, I have sat and written articles about other random thoughts and the day has passed and the opportunity has once again escaped me.

Well, so much for Father’s Day 2019! This also goes for Memorial Day, Mother’s Day, Groundhog Day, April Fool’s Day and the ever favorite first day of Spring. 

Not only did I forget to pen some of my best lines for Father’s Day, I failed to remember our plans for the weekend and poor planning forced us to make many last-minute changes. I had committed weeks ago to be present and assist in the dedication of the Veterans Memorial on Saturday, June 15. 

Then, without looking at a calendar or considering the possibility of double booking, the good wife and I planned to leave early on Saturday morning to travel to Salem, Missouri to see her dad for Father’s Day. 

It was during the period of a week prior to the day of conflict when I realized that I had committed on two separate fronts. Modifications were quickly made, and we simply made our departure about six hours later than scheduled. It all worked out, we were present for the dedication and were able to connect with all the family as planned.

Although none of our readers were invited to accompany us on the trip to Salem, everyone was invited to attend the Memorial Dedication. 

As it is with all outdoor events, the risk of disruption due to inclement weather seemed especially probable on this specific Saturday morning. Radar indicated that the rain mass stretched all the way west to Bartlesville and appeared to increase in intensity along that line. Conditions remained cloudy; thankfully the precipitation dissipated. The south wind remained strong adding an element that can prove to be quite exciting as the 30’x60’ flag becomes a great sail. 

Not a single member of the honor guard wants to turn loose of the flag too soon and thus desecrate the flag by allowing it to touch the ground; but hang on too long and man of average size could find themselves airborne. 

The original plans for the honor guard were modified and additional poundage was added along with several members from all the local law enforcement agencies represented. The flag went up, the honor guard stayed down, and it was a beautiful site.

The entire dedication was accomplished in a great fashion and the Memorial is officially dedicated in honor of the Neosho community. 

Recognition needs to be given to the Neosho Exchange Club, with special notice to Dave Padgett and Kevin Wilson. Dave for his dedication to the fund-raising efforts and Kevin for his planning and execution of the Dedication Ceremony. Getting the ceremony completed is an honorable task, getting it completed on a day under such extreme circumstances deserves extra credit. Many of the roadblocks in the fundraising efforts remained behind the scenes, but the hurdles that presented themselves on the day of dedication had all of us drawn up like a Bull Durham sack.

After it was all said and done, the speaking and political guests that were invited from afar and those in their dress uniforms and others providing special features of the day, such as the gun salute, the special painted CFI truck and trailer, delivered a very meaningful presentation for the unveiling of the Memorial. If you couldn’t attend, it’s alright. 

The Memorial is there everyday and intended for use. There are areas where one can sit and reflect. The path is paved and fairly level, providing easy access to the area around the flagpole and to the monuments. 

The flags, yes flags, as flags for each of the armed services and one for POW/MIA has been added to the Memorial, are provided special lighting at night. It is my intent to make a visit to the Memorial during the nighttime hours just to experience the special ambience provided by the lighting.

I may have missed Father’s Day as a subject matter, but the Father’s Day weekend turned out to be one that I will not forget. I just need to remember to check the calendar and plan accordingly.

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