Veterans Day - Washington, DC

Veterans Day – Washington, DC

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Last fall, my cousin got married in Virginia. It was quite the momentous occasion for the Dhillon family because it marked the first time since 2003 that my entire immediate family would travel together…Mom, Bap (aka Dad), Preet (my sis, YES, she flew in from India for 4 days to attend this wedding, because family is everything to her) and Me. Outside of the fact that there were like 100 Dhillons at the wedding and I got to catch up with my old college roommate, being able to spend 4 days together as a family was priceless to us. You have to understand, my parents rarely travel with me or my sister…and my sister literally lives on the other side of the world. I get to see her twice a year. My parents only get to see her once a year, for a month only, tops. So, obviously, this was a big deal for us. It just so happened that the wedding festivities fell on the Veterans Day holiday weekend. Not uncommon in the South Asian community, people tend to throw down their matrimonials on long weekends to maximize the number of guests that can attend (worst case scenario being July 4th or Thanksgiving weekend weddings – come on y’all, that nonsense has to stop – really, on those 2 holidays?!). In this instance, it was kind of awesome that we were in our nation’s capital for Veterans Day because neither myself nor my parents had been to see the monuments in several decades (yeah, I’m old, I said decades). The only bummer was that my sister had to head back to India, so it was just me and my parents. If you’ve been or haven’t been in a while, I highly recommend a trip to Washington, DC to visit the heart of our nation’s government.  With the current state of our political climate, I’ll admit, my faith in our system was diminishing. The parties seem to be further apart on issues than ever before. But man, walking through the capital, reading the quotes of the great men & women that founded our beautiful nation was just the medicine I needed. It reminded me of what we stand for in this country. Justice. Freedom. The Pursuit of Happiness. It reinforced the pride I feel as an American. And to be there on Veterans Day was something else all together. The capital was filled with Veterans: Air Force. Navy. Marines. Army. All ages. Every block, we were thanking vets for their service to & sacrifice for this country. There was a booth of people that were just giving out free hugs to any & all that wanted to feel loved. People were grateful. Thankful. As we visited the Vietnam War Memorial, there was a ceremony in progress celebrating females in the military. Right when we showed up, the guard were presenting our nation’s colors. I literally was brought to tears as I stood there in awe, behind a sea of retired vets, standing at attention, saluting the American flag. It was a powerful moment, one that is etched in my memory & heart for the rest of my life. And although that particular moment could’ve served as the highlight of the entire trip, it was when we went to the Air & Space Museum in the National Mall that really did it for me. You see, when my father first came to this country in the late 1950s, he attended Fresno State, obtaining a Masters in Mechanical Engineering. During his program, he helped build and test the first seismograph designed to measure Moon quakes. That seismograph was launched into space via APOLLO 11 and still resides on the surface of the moon today. Seeing my father stand in front of Apollo 11 was no doubt one of the most special moments in my entire life. I love my father. He is my idol. My role model. My hero. The quote he’s standing by at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial perfectly sums up my father in a single sentence:

” The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – MLK (1963)

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