It's been an interesting weekend so far! Yesterday we had the yard sale (or "Sale Yard", as my friend's son calls it) at the Event Center in Taylorsville and the neighborhood had a yard sale for the orphanage as well.
The one at the Event Center was a ton of work - we had a U-haul and trailers and had to get everything from Eagle Mountain and Heber and Lehi up to the Convention Center. I think the crowd was significantly less than the 4K they projected. After the first date was cancelled for rain, they scheduled it for Memorial Day weekend and I think that really hurt the crowds. There were always a few people going through, but it wasn't "packed" like it was supposed to be. We ended up with mostly "small ticket items" - clothes and books and VHS tapes.
People were so fascinating to watch. And it was amazing to watch what people were interested in which items and when they would haggle over a $.25.
The funniest thing that happened to me was probably the couple that bought one of the "Hope for Little Angels of Haiti" T-shirts. The husband wanted one, so I got his size and put it in a bag and handed it to him. His wife gave me the money and then she said to me, "Now, can I wear this to work?"
I looked at her like, "How on earth would I know that?" and she still wanted an answer from me, so I said, "Sure! Why not!"
She said, "Yes! Oh, good!"
Her husband said, "Why are you asking that lady if you can wear this to work?"
And she said (wait for it), "Well, I wanted to know because we're not allowed to wear T-shirts to my work. But it's OK. She said it would be fine."
Her husband said, 'Honey.... this IS a T-shirt." and they walked away as he was trying to explain the finer points of what makes a T-shirt to his lovely, oblivious bride.
My neighborhood also had a yard sale for the orphanage. And I KNOW it was a ton of work, even if they didn't haul things to other counties. I am sad that we weren't able to be there because we'd already committed to be at the E-Center sale, but Jessica pulled things off with flying colors. I haven't spoken to her yet, but I can see from the comments from my neighbors on Facebook that it was "huge", "amazing" and that Jessica raised $1200 for the orphanage! (That, by the way, is the exact same amount we raised at the E-Center sale. Pretty impressive! My neighborhood is awesome!!)
I'm so touched by the outpouring of support! Jessica does so much for everyone else. I've mentioned before that her husband is away "playing soldier" (as my dad would say) and she's got her own busy family and home to run in his absence and she still finds time to take care of her neighbors and friends. She's a wonderful, caring, dynamic woman and we're very lucky to have her for a neighbor! Thank you, Jessica!
Speaking of soldiers, the Vietnam Traveling Memorial was in Ogden yesterday. It's a smaller-scale replica of the memorial in Washington, D.C. My father is a Vietnam Veteran and my mom's brother was killed in Vietnam. That memorial has a special place for me and my family.
When I was 19 I was able to travel to Maryland to meet up with my dad, who was out there on business, and we spent a week together seeing the area of the country where I was born (military brat born on Ft. George G. Meade in Maryland). We were able to go to The Wall on one of our days in D.C. and I was able to touch Uncle Niel's name and make a rubbing on it for myself. I know I'll never really understand what it was like for Niel, for my dad, for any of the thousands and thousands of veterans who gave or risked their lives in this and other conflicts, but I'm so grateful that they are willing to serve.
The way I see it, the United States of America is the "cool big brother" that all the other nations wish they could be. We have so much. We've been given so much. I believe that we have a global and eternal responsibility to our brothers and sisters. We're supposed to watch out for everyone smaller than us. I believe that God will hold us accountable for the things we could have prevented and didn't, for the burdens we could have lifted but ignored, for the wrongs we could have tried to right and allowed to occur. That doesn't mean that I agree with everything that has happened in these wars. Of course I don't. It would be fabulous if people could be reasoned with over a table and the evil dictators of the world would recognize the wrongs of their ways and play nicely with each other.
Unfortunately, that's not how people work. "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." Card Carrying Members of the Evil Dictators' Club will always be Card Carrying Members of the Evil Dictators' Club. Sometimes people are evil and sometimes it does take force to try to purge evil or prevent that evil from spreading.
But enough of my soap box...
The point is, my brother and his wife took their kids to Ogden with my parents yesterday. My mom was able to show them Niel's name. My dad was able to point out the names of men he knew in Vietnam. They showed them Niel's medals. They explained why he was there and why he was killed. They told them that Niel was a medic and that he was on the front lines and had gone to try to recover another wounded soldier when he, himself, was shot and killed. They showed them Bobby Shelton's name - the soldier Niel was trying to save. They made the names real. They gave them flesh and soul.
A reporter from the Ogden paper was there and snapped this picture of my niece, Romy, touching Uncle Niel's name with the roses they'd brought to leave for him.
I look at this picture and I see her face trying to puzzle out all the things she's been told and trying to reconcile the tears on her grandma's face with the small, stiff letters spelling out "Niel B. Riggs". She may not "get it". But it touched her and she's trying to make it a part of who she'll be. I see the reflection of my mother, behind Ro, supporting her, guiding her, holding the box of Niel's medals. And I think, "THAT is what it's all about. Those who travel this life are to do their best to make things better for those that follow. Whether they teach, or nurture, or build, or defend, or sacrifice. That is what we've been asked to do."
That is what God expects from us as nations and families and individuals - that we watch out for each other. Even when we've passed, there is still an influence of our works as we are reflected in the lives of our children and our grandnieces and our neighbors and the orphans in Haiti that we may never meet, but whose lives we have made better. Our presence, our legacy... is in that support. It's in what Niel means to me. It's in what the Wall represents. It's in my mother teaching my family. It's in the image of my father in his uniform. It's in Jessica having a yard sale for babies that she won't see for many, many months but whose mouths she is feeding now.
This? This is good. This is right. Thank God for America and for the freedom to be and do and support to the best of our abilities.
Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend.