Sunday, September 14, 2008

Talking Old Soldiers, November 10, 2006


Today as the rest of America celebrates Veterans Day, my thoughts wandered back to a time a few summers back and to a stranger whose name I would never learn, but a man I would come to respect immensely. It was a summer when money was tight at times and car problems of one sort or another seemed to pop up every other day. On this particular day, we were trying to fix another of those problems and getting frustrated because things with the car just weren't going well. At the point where I was about to walk away in total frustration, this old man appeared from out of nowhere and offered a hand. After a few short moments, the problem was fixed and needless to say, I was very happy. We shared a cold drink while the old man and I chatted for a while. During the course of our conversation, I learned that he was a vet from the Korea and Vietnam eras. He saw and experienced more during his service to our country than most people do in a lifetime. And though he denied it, it was obvious from his appearance and what he was carrying with him that he was homeless. I tried to pay him for his help, but he refused. Like most veterans down on their luck, his pride would not allow him to accept the money. I was so enamored with his story that I never thought to ask his name. I did, though, see him walking up and down the street over the rest of the summer. We would always exchange greetings or handshakes and general conversation, but he was forever reluctant accept help saying that charity should be reserved for those who were worse off than him. As we entered fall and the weather cooled, we found where he was sleeping and tried to keep up with him and make sure he was ok. Then at Thanksgiving, we were planning to have him as a guest for our holiday dinner.....but we couldn't find him. We never saw the old man again and I have no idea what happened to him. That was several summers back, but to this day he still crosses my mind every once in a while.....especially on days like today. So for that old friend (where ever he may be) and all the other veterans out there (where ever you may be) I'll say a prayer of thanks and gratitude for you and your service. And of everyone else, I ask only that you say thanks to vet. Shake their hand and look them square in the eye as you thank them. It's a simple gesture that only takes a moment, doesn't cost a thing, and will mean more than almost anything else that he or she will experience that day.

"Talking Old Soldiers" Elton John & Bernie Taupin

Why hello, say can I buy you another glass of beer
Well thanks a lot that's kind of you, it's nice to know you care
These days there's so much going on
No one seems to want to know
I may be just an old soldier to some
But I know how it feels to grow old

Yeah that's right, you can see me here most every night
You'll always see me staring at the walls and at the lights
Funny I remember oh it's years ago I'd say
I'd stand at that bar with my friends who've passed away
And drink three times the beer that I can drink today
Yes I know how it feels to grow old

I know what they're saying son
There goes old man Joe again
Well I may be mad at that I've seen enough
To make a man go out his brains
Well do they know what it's like
To have a graveyard as a friend
`Cause that's where they are boy, all of them
Don't seem likely I'll get friends like that again

Well it's time I moved off
But it's been great just listening to you
And I might even see you next time I'm passing through
You're right there's so much going on
No one seems to want to know
So keep well, keep well old friend
And have another drink on me
Just ignore all the others you got your memories
You got your memories

Til Next Time...............
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