To Witness The Bonds of Brotherhood: Veterans’ Day

Each year, over on The Kitchen Dispatch, I pen a new post for Veterans’ Day. But this year, I’m re-running this one, because I think the feelings remain the same.

Veterans’ Day: To Witness The Bonds Of Brotherhood

Vietnam Veteran

Each November they come, marching on streets from Fullerton to New York City. Some are grizzled and grey, their columns are not as straight as they were when they were younger,  and many march arm in arm. Many of their families stand on the curb to take photos and wave.

To watch a Veterans’ Day parade is to bear witness to a timeline of war and peace: Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Korea, The Pacific, and Europe. And if you were to imagine marching ahead of them could be the honorable spirits from Belleau Wood, San Juan Hill, Antietam, Gettysburg, and Valley Forge. We might even imagine the loved ones they left behind to go to wars of a bygone time, standing alongside the present families to watch the procession go by. War. It is an unfortunate event that bonds generations together.

The passing years are gently worn by some of the WWII vets. While there are those still able to make the march, others sit at the staging area. They wear caps emblazoned where and with whom they served. Many have medals pinned to their jackets. Their vision is not as keen, sharp sounds are softer now. Yet, here they are, craning their necks, listening for the familiar sound of boots on the ground.They are waiting for their brothers who are marching for them.

Veterans from Fullerton College

Veterans gather every November 11 not just for the fanfare, hoopla, or flag waving. They come together to feel the bonds of service. For this was a time in their life when brotherhood was never a question and trust meant the difference between life and death. Unlike the camaraderie displayed among actors on a screen, or by athletes on a team, what separates them is the oath they took to protect and serve our country. Often this meant saving the life of their brothers, even if it could cost them their own. What distinguishes them is each has walked the warrior path, embodying a code of ethics and honor, and a willingness to sacrifice everything. In combat, they put aside their own needs. They would die for each other, they would die for you, they have died for us.

We know this day stirs old memories of those they have lost. Battle buddies who sat with them in a trench, a hooch, on the deck of a carrier, on a stretch of beach but didn’t make it through. The sounds and smells of war come back, not only today, but late at night when everyone in the house is asleep. For it’s not just the physical harm they risked, what they put on the line was their soul, sacrificing their own sense of peace. What many have worked so hard to get back is the same certainty they had during the war –a cause or person who makes them feel that life matters as much now as it did back then. Hand to hand; face to face; eye to eye; brother to brother; soul to soul.

Current War Veterans From West Point

Some have weathered the toll of war better than others. The men and women who have trudged through fields, jungles and urban decay have to regain their balance in fog of war. Today, when the word veteran is greatly shortchanged by stereotypes, when they themselves are politicized, finding their inner peace hasn’t been easy. For some, the search has been elusive, and others struggle. But many, who have reclaimed it, work tirelessly to help those who are still on the march, trying to catch their breath. They are, and always will be –warriors.

A WWII Veteran and Current Veteran Talk

This is why we gather on Veterans Day: to see and honor the brotherhood between those who have served and continue to do so. All we have to say to them when we walk by are five simple words: “Thank you for your service.”

Sunday Beauty & Upcoming Yoga Events For Veterans’ Day

Road and landscape in southeastern Utah

A few weeks ago, we reminded our readers to find beauty everyday. It could be the angle of the sun as it illuminates the kitchen counter, the smile of a total stranger, perhaps the bloom of the last rose before winter. Or it could be something as simple as noticing the landscape you drive through everyday.

Veterans’ Day is this Friday. For almost every veteran, it’s a somber time –one where they remember friends who have passed, as well as very difficult times. It’s the day the rest of us reflect upon their sacrifices and offer them respect, and a hand of friendship. Those of us who do yoga, can offer veterans the chance to catch their breath, and perhaps a way to calm the senses and maybe even get a good night’s sleep.

Click to find free yoga

This Friday, many studios across the U.S. will be partaking in a fundraiser for Yoga For Vets. YFV asks participating studios to offer one free class for veterans on this day. You can check out their Facebook page, or click on this picture to go to the official Yoga For Vets site, and do a search to see if the yoga teacher or studio is participating in the fundraiser. So far, Florida, California,Illinois, New York, Georgia,  Connecticut, Alabama all have participating studios who will be open for veterans this day. Here’s an example:

Rebecca in Woodbridge CT: We are hosting a by donation partners class at 6:45 pm at Woodbridge Body Works, Fitness~Yoga~Boutique with part of the proceeds going to Yoga For Vets!

Elizabeth in Newnan GA: I’m offering a free Yoga for Vets class at the Summit Family YMCA at 9:30am (partners welcome). Also free classes all month long at The Carnegie on Wednesdays, 3:30-4:30pm (again, partners welcome).

Yoga For Vets asks Studios to donate on Veterans Day

Paul won't make you do this unless you really want to. We let him get away with it because he's a former Navy Diver.

This Veterans Day, November 11, the organization Yoga for Vets is inviting yoga studios across the nation to sign up with YFV, and hold a special class for veterans and pass the hat, or give a portion of the day’s receipts to Yoga For Vets.

The founder of Yoga For Vets, Paul Zipes, is having his  Veterans Day class at a local college near Panama City, FL. Part of the proceeds will go to the campus veterans group, the rest goes back to Yoga For Vets.

Yoga For Vets was started by Paul, a former Navy Diver who took a yoga class on a dare. Now a yoga teacher and the owner of a studio, he started YFV as a way to help honor the men and women who serve our country, and to say “Welcome home.”

Site for Paul's Veterans Day Class

Site for Paul's Veterans Day Class

Studio owners and teachers can sign up with Yoga For Vets to offer 4 free classes to Combat Veterans. “All I want is for yogis to say, “Welcome Home,” and for veterans to get a good night’s sleep,” says Paul. To date, over 300 studios nationwide have accepted this challenge. Yoga For Vets provides a listing on their site so veterans can find a studio in their community.

The organization leaves the business decisions to each studio. This gives studios the chance to network in their community with the active duty, reserves, National Guard, veterans and families in their community.  All YFV does is encourage yoga studio owners to begin a conversation.

Paul, surfing, because Navy Divers are just too cool.

Here are some places for yoga teachers and studio owners to reach out:

  1. National Guard Armories
  2. Armed Forces Reserves
  3. Local Active Duty Military Bases
  4. Veterans Centers
  5. Blue Star Family Groups
  6. Family Readiness Groups (on bases)
  7. University ROTC Battalions (Many of their soldiers and especially their leaders, have deployed).
  8. College Veterans Services Offices
  9. Local chapters of national organizations: IAVA, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Vets, Am-Vets, USO
  10. Local military support groups
  11. Alumni groups for military service academies (West Point, Annapolis, Air Force Academy)

There may not be a stampede at the door, but starting a conversation and building a relationship with the military community will guarantee a slow and steady flow over time.

In addition, if you’re a veteran, or friend, you can appeal to the yoga studio in your town.  Yoga is already being used at many military bases to reduce stress, and help alleviate symptoms of PTSD. You can approach local yoga studios about this opportunity, and ask then to give 4 free classes to veterans by signing up with Yoga For Vets.