We spent Memorial Day weekend with some great friends and celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary. I remember in late 1987/early 1988, somewhere in there – after I had asked Leah to marry me and she had said yes – I got a phone call from a close buddy who wanted to know how I knew getting married to Leah was the right thing to do. I thought about it for a minute and said, “I simply can’t do anything else.” I have a much more romantic answer than that and use it regularly, but there is a simple truth in what I said. Every element in my being was moving forward at whatever this pace of existence is, and every element in unison was expecting that march to continue with Leah. Period. Now I recognize it on a more biblical level – she completes me, and the two of us are truly one in the image of God. Back then, I told my buddy the truth. I couldn’t do anything else. 24 years later, I’m glad I was so helpless.
We got married on Memorial Day weekend out of convenience, not symbolism, but it is one of the best holidays we have. Paying homage to all those who fight and have fought so that we can say and do and live as we please is a good thing to do. In that regard, NASCAR knows how to do it. I saw the beginning of the big 600 mile race on Sunday evening and the local fire department bagpipe corps played “Amazing Grace.” Then a lone military bugler played “Taps.” Got to be several hundred thousand people there – at least a hundred thousand – and there is not a sound other than the tributes being played. Then a country music singer delivers a very traditional, respectful version of our National Anthem. Right on cue, as if to remind all the NASCAR fans that their idea of loud is nothing, a B-52 out of Bartlesville, Oklahoma hits the deck above the track at just a hair off full throttle. I’d bet my last dollar at least one regularly maligned tough old redneck there looked at his neighbor with tears running down his face and said “that’s what freedom sounds like.” He’s right. And I for one am going to try much damn harder not to take it for granted. Here’s a special shout out to one of my favorite veterans: John Jasper Pyeatt T5/44-0-USNR-P, Radarman, USS Oxford, WWII.
The kids are with us now in Nicaragua – there’s a blunt transition. But really, it makes sense. Because Leah and I found each other, and because we worked at building a life that could only be built in America, we have a family and we have an opportunity to travel. If you want to put a spot on your list, chalk down Jicaro Island Lodge in Granada, Nicaragua. It is a spectacular place. If you happen to have a wife of 24 years and two great kids to share it with, bring them along. They make everything better.