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Veteran Traveler  Veteran Traveler and Gander: (AKC 2014/15 ACE hero. AHA Service Dog Hero Dog 2016. Advocating for service dogs, vets w/PTSD and trauma survivors.

We did a special Taps yesterday. We had passed North Platte Nebraska many times and had never noticed their immensely moving 20th Century Veterans Memorial.
During World War II North Platte was a railway stop where soldiers being shipped out had a brief stop.
So, dozens of volunteers, mostly women made them a temporary home away from home. Men spent a memorable 15 minutes in North Platte and were given food cigarettes and drink during their stay. Because of rationing during that time many of the volunteers made great sacrifices so the soldiers would have something
to remember.
From Christmas of 1941 through April 1, 1946, volunteers greeted and fed about 6 million service members.
The sculptures signed by different artists are spectacular: all services are represented and all 20th Century wars as well as a beautiful tribute to the women who maintained the canteen.
The town and the canteen were the subject of a book by Bob Greene, famed Chicago columnist, called Once Upon a Town.

There's Railway car and a lake adjacent to the memorial. That's where I chose to play taps.
Bricks line both sides of the memorial walkway and inscribed with the names of veterans honored by friends and relatives.
Some of the men, headed for battle in the Pacific, knew the chances of being killed or injured were nearly one in three. They volunteered to protect our freedoms anyway.
This place must've been a very special distraction and a beautiful show of appreciation for their sacrifice.

Taps at Boys Town with Dennis Buckman, Bridget Seitzinger, Sherry Gomez, and Mark Racas.
Dennis and I were residents here at the same time.
We took a tour of the chapel where I spent many a vespers singing Gregorian chant.

In the small world department:
Walking into the Mexican restaurant last night to have dinner with part of the Denver crew, a woman stopped me at the door. She asked if I remembered her...I did.
She is from Waukegan Illinois and worked at the courthouse where we have successfully prevailed against businesses that denied service dog access and where we train their staff in service dog access, etiquette and behavior.
She now lives in Denver and works across the street from the restaurant for a local law firm.

Taps tonight near Fort Morgan Colorado.
On our way to Chicago.

In the newer section of the cemetery G was restless little agitated. Once we move into the bedroom section with Spanish American war markers and Civil War markers he was at peace.

Taps in Colorado Springs tonight. At Evergreen Cemetery. An abundance of civil war graves. This cemetery is often the site of anachronistic Civil War gatherings.
I played taps very late. Colorado Springs glowing in the background.

So, we went to my hometown, Pueblo, and of course we had to have the indigenous special there: Sloppers!
It's basically a cheeseburger in a bowl drenched in SouthWestern Green chili...
As you can tell from Marks expression it was a little spicy for a Chicago boy.
We gave the owner of the tavern a challenge coin.

Taps on the Overland Trail near Sterling Colorado.
By the North Platte River and the site of a battle in the 1800s between the Army and Cheyenne Dog Soldiers.
If you look closely you can see a deer fording the river

How to know you might still be in Nebraska. ;-)

Synchronicity, kismet, coincidence or whatever you might call it seems to find us during our taps time.
Tonight was so special. We accidentally pulled into the wrong cemetery but decided to stay. We found a small patch with only a few graves in it.
The caretaker heard us playing taps and came over. We told him what we did every night and why.

He told us we have been standing only few feet from the three people buried there who had committed suicide.
The brothers listed on the headstone below committed suicide almost 10 years apart. They were gay, had been bullied and the abuse had taken a toll. The older brother committed suicide in the same manner and in the same place as his brother had ten years earlier. Father, who took the suicides incredibly hard, passed away within the last couple of weeks and his ashes are being brought here from Arizona so he can be with his sons.
Donald Sweeney took his life only recently.

Tonight was an especially difficult taps.
I was taken off guard by an impromptu visit we made to a small cemetery in Indiana.
There were three graves very close together with the remains of three soldiers who lost their lives in the Middle East and all at different times.
When was killed during guard duty in Iraq, another lost his life during an RPG attack in Iraq and another man was killed by an IED in Afghanistan.
Near them with a young man, 12 years old, who ran away from home with a pistol and ammunition and took his own life. G laid down next to the grave and didn't want to move.
G knowing I was upset, leaned against me the whole time I was playing taps.
The area was unbelievably muddy. We had to pull the trailer pulling the scooter, for our disabled veteran community member, out of the mud.
Always an adventure. Powerful adventures, but always with a twist that releases us from the gravity of the situation with a little chance at laughter.


Amazing news!! Trish Rodolff researched scooters for us to give to Lt Dan ( Norb Norbert Niedzwiecki ) and discovered a great buy about 90 minutes from us in Indiana. And Trish bought the scooter.
So, George Gandara and I bolted southward.
Norb was pretty blown away.
Thank you everyone for your offers to help. I have another very important PACK in mind that I will talk to you about tomorrow.
The best community on Social Media.

Taps at the Veterans Memorial in the Lutheran cemetery near Arlington Park.

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