05/26/19 I’ve been noting a bit of an uproar from the offended folks about the paper poppies handed out in an ongoing effort to keep the memory of veterans who gave all alive.  To help we citizens put in the forefront the sacrifice made to give us what we have.  The flag should drop to half-mast – we should rise and cover our hearts, or if military, salute as the flag passes in the Memorial Day Parade.  The memorial service should be solemn, commemorative.  Taps must play from the coronet or trumpet; the mournful music brings a tear for the great cost of freedom.  The freedom to be offended was won by those we honor – be offended, but I will not be denied my equal freedom to honor. 

I reached a hand to a chap wearing a Viet Nam Veteran hat, offered a “thank you” for a service long berated.  He smiled a warm response as the grip lingered and clear eyes held mine.  “We never got much thanks for that one, did we?  I did three tours – you serve?”

“No.  I had the lottery and my number did not come up. I was very thankful – even felt guilty once in a while as the casualties and numbers came home.”

“My brother was lucky that way, too.  Got a high number and stayed home.”  His pause changed his eyes – a little curtain at first, then a sadness.  “Left a lot of guys in the jungle.  Never seen so much rain, the bugs, the traps and constant tension.  Never trust anyone but a brother in arms.  Difficult times.  Sickness – drugs to cope.  Alcohol to get up out of the water-filled trench to  face the fire, always the fire.  Did our duty.  Duty called.  And so many fell.  We built emotional walls.  Tried not to get close to anyone, just laugh and macho things out.  Suffer alone.  Glad I had my faith, my God.  Even back home he got me through so much – the hate, the spit, the shouts and the years of really coming back to civilization.” 

I took his hand again.  “God Bless you, man.  I won’t forget and will always honor your fight for the colors, for honor.”  He smiled just a little.  We parted as his wife hailed from a further aisle of the store.

“Bring the cart, old man!  You ain’t that old!”  His shoulders shuddered a laugh as he turned for a wave.

Such men and women God gave us.  Praise Him for providing such heroes, the warriors who answered the call.  Not all conflict has honorable cause.  Not all conflict results are desired.  We must not focus on the collaterals on this day of respectful homage.  Our flag should fly everywhere for the troops who secured the privilege to do so.  Three of my brothers served, but God spared them war.  Another brother served as military chaplain and ministered to those in service far from home.  But this is not a “veterans’ Day.”  This is much deeper, much more soulful, much more a reason for thanks that cannot be heard, but spoken perhaps in tears, for all who put God and country first and in so doing, died. submitted by Dave Smith