On this past election night, after we have all endured the long months of monotonous and often annoying political commercials that commonly go with the season, instead of watching the returns, I switched over to one of our local PBS stations just in time to catch a show called, “Lidia Celebrates America: Homegrown Heroes.”
I was captured. It made my night.
Lidia Bastianich is that Italian grandmotherly woman who does a very popular and homey cooking show on PBS. She reminds me of so many of my Italian friends moms who I knew growing up in Stamford, Conn. She oozes hospitality and watching her cook, you always get the sense that you are a guest in her home.
This particular program was different though.
The entire video is her celebration not just of America, but of American military veterans who have found both healing and ways to continue to serve their communities through working the soil, producing food.
Each of the veterans she visits around the country, most of whom are combat veterans of the post 9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, have taken up farming and are producing food in one fashion or another. Some are doing traditional farming in traditional farm country settings, some are developing vineyards and making wines, others are using more exotic hydroponic farming techniques to grow food in the environments of major cities, others have developed urban plots where they grow food for local consumption and teach the children of the neighborhood the dignity of work and the pleasure of producing something from the soil.
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Many are inviting other veterans into the work as well to benefit their own healing. All of these veterans have found both meaning and purpose in doing this for themselves and for others.
This is a 50 minute video, but it is utterly engaging on many levels. It is clear that Lidia Bastianich has a love for America, but it is also clear that she has a love for our veterans too.
She visits each of the veterans in this show in their own locales. You get a little information of their military history and how each of them have found the inner harmony and peace that they needed after their service through working the land, producing crops and feeding themselves and others.
That is really the core message of the video; it is in finding ways to serve others that we find the peace and the happiness we are looking for, especially after the traumas of war.
Take the time to watch this video. I think you will be as moved as I was by each of these veterans stories. This is only one way that veterans are finding to make their re-entry into civilian life more productive and engaging, but watching it is a soul-satisfying experience.
The Veterans Site says, “Welcome Home!” to all of our veterans. We thank you all for your selfless service to this country. We wish you all the peace you have earned.
Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.