An elderly man, with kind eyes and a small smile, wears a hat with an embroidered saying: “All gave some, 58,749 gave all. Vietnam Veteran.” He wears it proudly on a Monday. A Monday in late May. He wears it on a day with a parade.
Brightly colored red, white and blue streamers decorate the street. Music blares. Songs ring of patriotism, spirit and joy. Kids rush to catch the best candy thrown from the extravagant floats. Parents discuss plans for dinner. Americanism. Freedom. Liberty.
This elderly man heads down the street. People stare at him. Someone mutters, “Thank you, for your service,” while others bow. He smiles and continues on. He passes me. “Thank you,” I say. He humbly accepts my thanks and continues down the cement path.
His hat represents more than a war. It represents the people. The people who fought and the people who fell. He wore the hat for the 58,749 warriors who made the ultimate sacrifice for all the land and lives from the Redwood forest, to the Gulf Stream Waters.
This elderly man was once a teenage boy. And that teenage boy became a soldier and that soldier became hero and that hero is a veteran. The 58,749 people who made the choice became soldiers and those soldiers became heroes and those heroes became cherished memories.
Our Americanism, freedom and liberty are at a price so high we can never pay it back. Servicemen and women provided protection from wars and attacks against the US. They make the parades, parties and political freedoms possible.
This veteran, with kind eyes and small smile, continues, his head bowed in remembrance of his fallen friends, graciously accepting the mumbled thanks. This man told a story of remembrance, honor and pride without uttering a word.
On this Monday in late May. The Monday with a parade. It is Memorial Day.