Submitted by: Lloyd Peterson
They come in, in ones or two; mostly ones. They sit down, have their free meal. Somewhat chagrin about being given a free meal, but practical enough to say, “Hey, it’s a free meal.” It is so very nice of these companies who provide these meals, discounts, what have you. None of the people who receive this benefit would ask for it if it wasn’t offered, nor would they expect it. But it is nice that it is there. It is nice that it is offered.
Most are getting fairly old; however, some are still fairly young. It is good to see them. There are not as many as there were when the older ones where young. We no longer have a draft, you know. So many of the younger ones have that haunted expression. The older ones, more removed from the distant past, often still have a somewhat shallower haunt. It is still there; it’s just not as recent. Perhaps it is deeper, or they have learned to control it better; to not let others see it so readily.
What do they think of as they eat these meals? Is it thoughts of all the many meals while serving? Is it thoughts of all those whom they had those meals with? Or, those who they wish they were having this meal with. They may ask, “Why are they gone and I’m here?” To quote an unknown author: “A second here versus a second there; a step here versus a step there; that is the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day.” Think about that. They do.
The roads here in Michigan were treacherous today, yet they went out for those meals, the inherent comradeship, the nod of greeting, the knowing look. Some, after hazarding those icy roads, commented that they risked their lives getting there today. When you think about it, those who show up for these meals, be it in snow, rain, or bright sunshine, could say the same.
Yes, it is a day to honor those living veterans. It is a day they are grateful for those comrades who are living, themselves included, and thoughtful of those who have gone.
You want to honor a veteran? Become one. We are happy to have you.
About the author:
Dr. L. Peterson served in the Marine Corps from 1969 to 1971. He is a retired professor of behavior analysis and special education now living on a small woodland lake in Michigan.