A Memorial Day Message – Keeping It All In Perspective

A tribute to my dad and all veterans

A tribute to my dad, a WWII Bronze Star receipiant, who passed on December 7, 2019 just 3 months shy of his 101 st birthday and exactly 78 years to the “date which will live in infamy”, Pearl Harbor.

In what is now a tradition…a reprint from May 25, 2009 Memorial Day…As relevant today as ever.

Sometimes when you least expect it you get reminded of what is really important in life and how “tough times” is a relative term depending on your personal perspective and circumstances.

I stepped out of Walmart over the weekend  and there sitting in a folding chair—you know the one with brightly woven nylon straps that we all had either down the shore or in our backyards as kids—was a man who didn’t quite fill up the seat. He appeared to be in a uniform from a long-gone era with a cap that was unmistakable. In one hand, he held a container with a slit on the top and in the other was an artificial red flower. I smiled, instinctively reached into my back pocket for my wallet, and simply asked him, “Where did you serve?”

It’s easy for us all to get caught up in the day-to-day struggle  with the economy and lose perspective. I know that’s how it has been for me over this past year. It took a 90-something-year-old man to set my world right in just a few minutes. You see, this veteran held out the collection container and handed me a red “Buddy” Poppy with a smile on his face that showed true appreciation. He served in the Navy, both before and after WWII in both theaters. When I asked him if he enjoys traveling back to the places where he spent time during the war a bit of sadness crossed his face. He told me that his wife loves to travel and that he does it because it makes her happy, but the memories he has of some of those places are still “a bit tough for me.”

When I walked out of a supermarket later that day,  I repeated the same question, but this time to a man just a bit older than me. “Vietnam,” he said, “1st Marines,” as if I was his commanding officer. I said, “I guess I don’t have to ask you if you saw any action.” He smiled, looked me up and down and said, “We were kept pretty busy.”

I thanked both at the end of our brief discussions  and wished them, “G-dspeed.”

We all know people that have had a rough time of things during these down times . But in the end business cycles, recession cycles, job cycles are just that… cycles. Today the United States has troops stationed around the world and many of them are in harm’s way. With Memorial Day quickly approaching perhaps we should take time to reflect on what is important to us in life and be thankful for what it is that we do have.

If you see a veteran outside a store near you,  I hope you will also reach into your pocket to support our vets, wear the red “Buddy” Poppy proudly, and take the time to ask them, “Where did you serve?” And if you listen carefully they may just help you put things back into perspective.

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