Groff's Garage: In your honor
Just a head’s up: this entry comes on a complete serious side of me. For those of you who know me best, you know I DO NOT move when the National Anthem is being played; I ALWAYS stand, even at home while watching hockey games – I will remove my hat, stop in the middle of conversation and stand at ease - I DO NOT speak and I keep my eyes on our flag. I have been raised to honor and respect the flag and that it represents our country; our country may not be perfect, but it is the country I have been born and raised to honor and respect because it is not without sacrifice that I am able to sit and write each day; to exercise the freedom of speech.
It’s Military Appreciation weekend. The Beauts take on New York Riveters. Tickets sales are down, but the show must go on.
This weekend is high priority for me because of everything my mother taught me while caring and treating veterans at the VA where she was a nurse for 38 years. She taught me that our freedom comes at a price, that the privileges that I grew up with came from sacrifices of strangers and the brave men and women who fight for our country make it possible for me to have rights. The years that she spent on the various floors of the VA made my mother a hero in my eyes. The stories she would tell me of her patients – missing limbs, enduring surgeries after surgeries, long term care; she is my hero. I’ve told all of you that I did not have the strength or courage to enlist, so I volunteered my time and now I do what I can to give back to the men and women who sacrifice, fight, and sometimes pay the ultimate price.
Last year, Military Appreciation weekend was pretty amazing, I wanted to do more this year. The NWHL has partnered with United Heroes League (UHL,) and the non-profit organization keeps military kids in sports…so we did an equipment drive. They walked away with two 50 gallon contractor bags of equipment!
I wanted to do something new for the National Anthem and I was able to do just that: a choir! The SEMACHORDS from the Buffalo Seminary sang beautifully, sending chills up my spine and brought tears to my eyes. As I stood on the bench and for the first time I looked away from the color guard as they presented our flag. I looked over at my friend, Sergeant Major Jason Jaskula in his greens, saluting the flag and it made me think of the courage and bravery and sacrifices Jason made in his own life to be in the Army. As the song ended, Jason still stood saluting until the color guard walked off the ice.
Jason and I met last year at the VA when they held a Veteran’s Day special at the hospital. Myself and some original Beauts attended to spread the word about our military game. After meeting Jason, I asked him to drop last year’s puck. This year, I wanted to have Gold Star Moms drop the puck. For those of you who do not know who Gold Star Moms and Dads are, they are the parents of soldiers who lost their lives in battle. I have had the pleasure of meeting some of these wonderful people who continue to volunteer and carry on the service their children can no longer do. The Gold Star Moms I know are a group of ladies that work with Jason and K.I.A., collecting canned goods to hand out to veteran families during the holiday season. This year, for Krusher’s birthday party we are doing a teddy bear toss and giving the Gold Star Moms all of the teddy bears so they can then give them to veterans’ children during the holidays.
This year, Ms. Ann Davis – a Western New York Gold Star Mom – was going to drop the puck. I spoke with Ann multiple times over the course of the year, letting her know of my plans for this year’s Military Appreciation game. Every time I spoke with Ann about dropping the puck, and about honoring her son and his ultimate sacrifice, she always started to get tears in her eyes. I told her she would not be alone out on the ice, Jason would escort her out, but unfortunately, Ann had something come up last minute and she was not able to be there. So, Jason (my hero,) got to drop the puck once again… at least this year he didn’t fall!
Unfortunately the Beauts dropped the first game of the weekend to the Riveters 2 – 3. I’m thinking the next game will be better. I know the entertainment is going to be a howling good time.
On a complete side note: A message to ALL of the men and women of the armed forces – I want to take a moment to really say thank you for your sacrifices. Not only are you putting your lives on the line for our country, but you are putting your lives back home on hold; your dreams and your own families who wait for your return. Thank you for your selfless effort to keep my children safe, to keep my children free and continue to give them the rights and privileges that our country continues to honor. I would also like to thank the service men and women’s families for the sacrifices. Though they often go unnoticed, their lives are on hold and they are left holding their breath while waiting for the safe return of their loved one. Please know it does not go unnoticed. I only hope I can raise my children as my mother raised me; to thank those in uniform, to thank those who sacrifice their own lives for ours and to thank those who make the ultimate sacrifice and are laid to rest with honor. Thank you for your service.
The Beauts will be back in action at HarborCenter on Sunday, November 20, 3:30pm. Join us to celebrate Krusher's birthday!