Cold chills on a hot day
We all know Monday was a real scorcher. It was hot. Fry-an-egg-on-a-sidewalk hot.
Still, I kept getting chills. I kept getting chills on a hot day.
That’s because yesterday, I covered the Saluting the Troops event ” a convoy of vehicles decked out in yellow ribbons and American flags ” that went from the Glen Valley Care Center in Glenwood to the Colorado State Veterans Nursing Home in Rifle, and back to Glenwood to the Hotel Colorado.
I didn’t expect to get the chills. “They” (whoever “they” are) say newspaper reporters must detach when going out to cover a story. Don’t let your emotions get in the way of writing a true, balanced story.
Well, guess what? It doesn’t always work.
It started when I saw one of the soldiers who was being honored ” a young woman named Becky Tengel. She was decked out in her U.S. Army uniform: crisp jacket, skirt, beret and shiny black pumps. She didn’t look much older than the young women I just interviewed a couple weeks ago at Glenwood and Rifle’s high school graduations. She’s not much older: she’s 22.
Becky returned March 1 from Tikrit, Iraq, after a year with the 4th Infantry Division.
I asked her how it was being back in the States. I could look in her eyes and know she has seen things that have permanently changed her. She told me it is hard to readjust to being back home.
Later, I saw her talking with a World War II vet who lives at the nursing home. They shook hands and looked at each other in a way that said, “I know where you’ve been.” Their exchange gave me chills.
At the Hotel Colorado, a celebration for the hotel’s 111th birthday combined with Saluting the Troops. A man named Case Hicks dressed as Teddy Roosevelt read off more than 60 names of regional soldiers serving in Iraq. A little girl named Tabitha Timmer read a letter she wrote to her father, who’s currently serving.
Near the end of the ceremony veterans were asked to stand so the crowd could applaud them. I noticed quite a few vets were in wheelchairs. That gave me chills.
A man just a couple feet from me rose out of his chair. He not only stood at attention but held a salute until the end of the applause. The look on his face gave me chills.
And when local musician Bryan Savage took out his saxophone and played “America the Beautiful” I not only got chills, but tears rolled down my face.
Carrie Click is a reporter at the Post Independent. Her column runs on Tuesdays.
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