I should have posted this last week, but it usually takes me a few days to get perspective on my October 7th experiences. October 7, 1992 will always be a “special” day in our family. It was the day my dad died in a WV Air National Guard training mission. It’s been 18 years. 18 years? Seriously? Where does the time go?
For the majority of the past 17 October 7th days, my day has gone on as most other days do. I have gone to school or work. I may have watched the video of pictures we have to celebrate my dad. I have definitely talked to my mom and sister. I have received emails or phone calls from friends who remember that day as well – sending their love or reminding me of a fun memory of my dad. There have been a few October 7th days where I have taken the day off to truly celebrate my dad. We’ve visited spots where we spread his ashes all those years ago. We’ve visited the crash site. We’ve been to a memorial at the Air National Guard. I’ve just taken time to bask in his memory.
On this 18th anniversary, though, we got to attend a special dedication to my dad and his crew. We almost didn’t even hear about it.
About 6 weeks ago, I got a call from a woman who started the conversation with, “Is this Robin Lake? The Robin Lake who lost her father in an Air National Guard crash? In 1992?” Of course, I answered yes. Turns out they had been searching for members of our family for 2 weeks, and when they finally found my married name, they had been calling other Robin Lakes for a couple of hours before she reached me. (Can you imagine getting that kind of call if you weren’t me? Must have been weird.) The woman was so glad to reach me and so glad to hear that I was in the area. She said another man would be calling me soon to give me more details about an upcoming dedication they wanted us to attend. Another man did call me, got my address as well as those of my mom and sister, and gave me the details of the dedication. The WV Air National Guard had finished building and moving into their new operations building, and they had the old memorial to my dad’s crew moved to the new building and wanted to re-dedicate it.
There was no doubt in any of our minds’ that we would attend this dedication. What a special way to celebrate and honor my dad and the rest of his crew who lost their lives that day in October 18 years ago. Even better was that Jeremy and the kids joined me, my mom, my sister, Scott and Hayes. The whole clan was going! The actual service was touching. A couple of men who are still at the Guard after 18 years recalled their memories of each person on the crew. The chaplain said a prayer, and they did a full flag and trumpet thing (wish I knew the real word!) to dedicate the memorial’s new location. We then joined the rest of the families and service men and women inside for some refreshments where we met up with an old flying buddy of my dad’s and a few others from his time at the Air National Guard. Sadly, we had to leave before we could get a tour of a new C-5 plane, but the kids did get to see one out on the runway as we left. (Gosh, those planes are huge!!!!)
In reflecting back on that day, I am still in shock it has been 18 years. I am awed at the impact my dad and his crew made on the WV Air National Guard and those who service it. I am blessed that my kids and husband got to experience this dedication and see how special he was. My heart is full of wonderful memories from friends and family. The only downside is that we have to do all this at all – that October 7th is a day in our memories. A day we will never get to take back. A day that changed my family forever. A day that always forces me to have a little perspective on the world and my place in it.