Friday, November 12, 2010

Reflection: Veteran's Day

I saw the old men today at the tribute in the park. 
I wanted to hug them. 
They reminded me of my dad. 
The veterans are old now, so very old. 
Every day they die in scores, their memories going with them. 

We can keep the memories alive
But we must know them.
Do you know them?
Does anyone who wasn't there really know them?
I don't think so.

We salute, we honor, we remember
But we don't know.
Not really.
We were never there so how the hell can we remember?
What is our responsibility to those who've gone before?

We owe them.
They don't owe us.
We are in debt
And the debit is bottomless.
It can never be repaid.

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9 comments:

Matty said...

Well said and a nice tribute to our veterans. I know and have known quite a few over the years. And I've heard some stories. Some they tell with pride. Some with sadness.

California Girl said...

Thanks Matty. I was very moved by the old men leaving the park Thursday. They are so frail now. My father died in 07. He was 97, a WWII vet who stayed in the Reserves. He always felt honor bound to support his country. One old guy who passed me reminded me so much of my dad it was all I could do not to throw my arms around him.

DJan said...

What a poignant and moving post. I too am grateful to them for all they have given, and my dad has been gone long enough that I can still miss him through the other old men around me. I wonder what he would have done if you HAD thrown your arms around him.

California Girl said...

Thank you DJ. That poem began in my head as I passed the old gent and then turned to watch him walk away, his back to me. I think he'd have been seriously startled by that show of affection. It IS New England after all.

RNSANE said...

This waas a very touching tribute to our veterans. You are right, so many of our older veterans are dying off and their wars cannot be forgotten as they have to be remembered. We tend to focus on the present day and we owe so much to these warriors and heroes of the past.

Grandmother said...

I was a psychitric nurse and listened to my share of haunting memories of vets. My heart went out to them as they struggled to find ways to cope and rebuild their lives. I pray for the day when we don't use war as a way to solve our ever so complex problems.

Baino said...

You're right, only they 'know'. My best friend is a young vet. Sounds weird, hes 33 but spent 9 years in the Military.He's definitely damaged, we joke about it but there are things he doesn't speak about other than with his army buddies. I'm just grateful he's not my son. As for the older vets, I was stunned at how few Australians seemed to know the meaning of Armistice day. Simply stunned.

California Girl said...

RN,Grandmother & Baino: I guess the only saving grace is we have respect now for our soldiers whereas, when I was growing up in the Sixties, we criticized them as though the war was their fault.

I don't know when the name Armistice Day changed to Veteran's Day. I hard a piece o n it the other day but I've already forgotten.

I do believe the quote I put to the right of this post:

"The only war is the war you fought in. Every veteran knows that."
Allan Keller

budh.aaah said...

it is touching this tribute that you pay - to veterans long forgotten or remembered only as a sort of a duty.

Christina

Christina
by Cole Scott