When I was a kid I was in awe of men in uniform. I remember seeing them in the graveyard when we were placing flowers on Veterans Day. I didn’t fully understand Veteran’s day or war at that age, but thought the men looked brave, noble and also a little sad. Knowing they were soldiers made me feel safe.
I still feel safe knowing we have a strong military and that there are men and women willing to die to keep this a free country. Most of the military is working class who I consider to be the unrecognized backbone of this country. God Bless all that serve.
Besides hobo’s, older folks are probably my favorite group of people. They have come through the bulk of their lives and most have accumulated a lot of wisdom and gentleness. And like hobos they are not all that popular in our modern society.
Nobody seems to have time to listen to anyone that can’t get them ahead in some way.
Not too long back an older couple started attending our church and they have brought a lot of warmth with them.
The man, I will call him James, is 95 and served on air craft carriers in the South Pacific during World War 2. James still works out at the gym, and after getting out of the military worked most of his life fixing machines for newspapers across the country. He was born in Wisconsin and still has family there, but stayed in Lewiston after retirement because the area is a banana belt with soft Winters.
James was well decorated but doesn’t brag about it and does not attend events that honors Veterans. He has a tattoo on his forearm which is what made me ask about the military. His wife said there were a bunch more you couldn’t see, with a smile on her lips.
I asked if he had seen any action, and when I reflected later I could see it was a silly question. In my ego mind and I think maybe our whole country thinks this way, men who saw action are more masculine or real then men who didn’t. This is, of course, non-sense, and I count my blessing I have never experienced war.
A lot of memories and emotions seemed to move through James when I asked about seeing action, mostly sadness and maybe a little regret.
James counts his blessings for being transferred off a ship that was soon after sunk. People die at war, I know I am stating the obvious, but when you reflect on it, for every man, and in this era every woman that was killed regardless of who they fought for, there are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters who will never see them again. They will mourn, grieve, get angry, question themselves, question there governments and their God.
That is a lot of unseen collateral damage and I assume is why James, who is obviously sensitive, doesn’t go to Veterans events, he understands the pain and sadness of war. But that is what a soldier signs up for, not only to possibly die for his country, but to suffer the scars and sacrifices of war. The loss of friends, the taking of another life.
Veterans Day is there to honor those who served in our wars, and I am so grateful they fought to keep this country free, and we should feel as deeply as we can their sacrifice.
When I was on the streets I was afraid to feel my sadness, I thought it would overwhelm me. But a friend of mine explained that grief expands the heart. These days I am better at feeling my sadness when it comes up, and it does seem to make me more tender. I am more likely to see the hurt behind angry words, not just the angry words The more I grieve the closer I feel to others. I understand everyone on this planet knows the same grief and sadness I know. So today why not reflect on all the lives lost in wars and all the trauma they cause to humans all over the world. Feel the grief of that and give someone a hug, hopefully a veteran, we are all human.