I like to walk on cool days when the sun is shining on my face. It makes me feel warm and alive. Sometimes I walk into town. Everyone’s in such a rush to get where they’re going. Sometimes I wonder if they see me…really see me. Or am I just another blurred face in the crowd. Do they notice me at all?
Sometimes I wear my Veteran’s cap, and someone will greet me with that special kind of smile, or thank me for my service and reach out to shake my hand or pat me on the back. It’s usually the older folks. I ask myself, “Is this why I wear the cap?” Sometimes I think it is. Or maybe I wear it for my war buddy, Bill, who was running next to me when they shot him between the eyes. Or maybe I wear it for Kevin who came in as a new medic, but never made it to the front line. Man, that day, no medic could help him. Maybe it’s for Adam, who now lives his life in a wheelchair, staring out the window thinking of what could have been, as he watches his children play in the yard. I don’t know anymore.
School buses and automobiles whiz by transporting unfamiliar faces. They don’t know what I’ve seen; what I’ve heard. They don’t know. Every night I pray they never will. The sun is still warm on my face, and the cool breeze balances the warmth so what I’m feeling is – comfort. God, back in those days I never thought I’d ever be able to think that word again.
I stop at a corner and wait for the light to turn green. An elderly man comes from behind me. He stands a little to my right. I can hear his labored breath. I turn toward him, and notice a familiar cap. It reads ‘Veteran’. He knows…he knows. “Are you alright?” I ask. “Here, sit for a while,” and I lead him to a little bench outside of a nearby coffee shop. I gently help him to sit. “I’ll be alright, son,” he replies through heavy breaths. I go inside the shop and bring out a cup of cold water for him and a coffee for me. We sit together for a while. He came home safely from the Korean War, married his high school sweetheart, and had 3 children. After 40 years she passed away, and his children are dispersed throughout the country. He made it alright on his own for many years, but now his health is beginning to wane. He walks every week to the clinic because he can’t drive due to failing eyesight. And the bus doesn’t stop near where he lives. He’ll be going to live with his daughter, but that won’t be for another two months.
We continue on our journey, and I walk the rest of the way with him to make sure he arrives safely. I help him to the second floor to the modest, little apartment he calls “home”. “Look, what about if I pick you up next week, and drive you to the clinic,” I say. There’s a pause, then he looks at me with tearing eyes. “You’d do that for me, son?” he asks surprised. “Sure! We veterans have to stick together, right?” “Can we have some ice cream after my appointment?” he asks. I smile. “You got it!”
I made it back to the land of the free – free to show kindness, free to help a buddy in despair, free to still serve my country. I don’t know why he trusted me – a stranger. Maybe it was the comradely cap. Maybe that’s why I wear it. Yeah!
Thank you for joining me today on Leisure Lane. Not long ago, my cousin, Diana St. John, Vice President of the non-profit organization Driven By Heroes, and I were talking. It was a wonderful conversation from which the above story was inspired. Driven by Heroes, as their mission statement emphasizes, strives “To Honor and Enhance the Quality of Life for United States Military Veterans, Current Military Personnel, and their Families.” Through transportation programs, Driven By Heroes, provides free rides for veterans to their critical care medical appointments. If you would like to learn more about Driven By Heroes and their upcoming events, or would like to contact them, simply click here.
I hope your day is full of remembrances of the blessings we have in our lives, due to the sacrifices of our brave warriors and their families. May God bless you all – today and everyday!
Until next time, may happy days abound!
Note: The above story is fictional. Any resemblance to persons living or deceased is purely coincidental. This story is not to be used in any form without permission from the author. If you would like to use this story or any part of this story for positive or inspirational use, feel free to contact me on my Contact/Licensing page. Thank you.
Images used are from http://images-pictures.org/veterans-day-clip-art-and-new-photos.html