Townie Tidbits


By the time you are reading this, I will have been down in Austin, Texas, visiting the Giarratani Family.

I have been going down there every year since Christmas 2007. Austin is a very large and new city. It is in continuous growth. High-rises go up one after the other. Beautiful residents are sprouting on both sides of Lady BidLake. The temperature at the moment is about 40 in the morning and about 70 every afternoon. I am probably wearing shorts as you are reading this. You don’t get suntans, but you sure get outdoors a lot.

Beautiful city, laid back folk, plenty of great food and music.Austin is my favorite spot in America to visit. Always have a good time. Almost impossible to have a bad day.

In the past years, I have already made many new friends all on my own.  Last year I also went down around Veterans’ Day and marched in Austin’s Veterans’ Day Parade, which runs the length of Congress Avenue up to the gates of the State Capitol.

There’s only one Dunkin’ down there, but a million or so Starbucks, which come with cushy living room chairs to relax right into. I had never celebrated Veterans Day down in Austin before and last year I ended up joining in the line of march. I was probably the only veteran who belonged to a G.A.R.  Post that ever marched in it.

Back in the Civil War, the color of the day was grey not blue.However, the city itself is called the Blue Dot in a Red State. I get along with most. Even the liberals down there aren’t really liberal and the conservatives are fine folks too in their cowboy hats.

Here I am now 70 years old and I still remember my younger days when shortly after graduating English High in 1966, I joined the US Air Force and saw my first view of Texas and fell in love with the place. Here I am all these years later remembering those long ago days when I wore my dress blues down at Lackland AFB in San Antonio.

Nowadays I often go to veteran events or community meetings when vets are asked to stand and get cheered. I have mixed feelings about that. Veterans like getting respected because 45-50 years ago, vets got scorned over the division caused by the Vietnam War. I don’t need to get thanked because I did what I was supposed to do and that’s it. A couple of years ago, I received the 50th anniversary Vietnam War pin. I wear it along with a few other pins. I do get embarrassed by all the thank yous now getting thrown at me for my service.

Last year in Austin, I met the oldest U.S. soldier still living at 111 years old down there. When I was 13-years-old, I met a two-war U.S. Army veteran. His second war was WWI. His first was as a rough rider who went up San Juan Hill in 1898 with Col. Teddy Roosevelt. He was awalking piece of American history. As a teen I met many survivors ofPearl Harbor too.   Today, young American men and women still serve their country in harm’s way to defend our freedom.

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