November 11, 2018

if i shook a veteran's hand today

"Welcome home."
... I would want that veteran to know that the hand was at the end of an arm appended to a bleeding-heart, raving blue liberal desperate to represent that we, too, appreciate the hell out of our veterans and our military.  Being against a bloated military budget and the industrial-military complex, being against unnecessary war and dubious justification of our military presence in some foreign locations, can co-exist alongside outrage at how the V.A medical centers are underfunded and a deep appreciation for the sacrifices these men and women have made, the things they've endured, with gratitude sometimes so intense that it moves us to tears.

I have a salient memory from when I was twenty-one and visiting my childhood church.  Saving Private Ryan had just come out.  I remember a clump of the older men in the church, deacons who were WWII veterans, standing in the back of the sanctuary after church one Sunday, discussing the movie.  Two of them were telling the others, "Don't watch it," shaking their heads vigorously.  The movie was too full of triggers.  These men with wrinkles standing in suits and ties, about to head out to B&J's Restaurant with their wives and a few friends for fried chicken and greens and cornbread, living a simple life in a small town, carried inside them the horrors of war they brought back home.

Bill Phillips had one leg.  He had lost the other in the war.  Every week he wore a gray striped suit with the empty pant leg folded in half and pinned up.  He always smiled and he gave out Carefree chewing gum sticks, torn in half, to children.

"I mean it, Bill, don't watch it, don't rent the tape.  They did too good a job, like it's real."

Thank you from the liberal girl.  You didn't notice her listening in on your conversation, but she heard you, and she thought about it, and she understood.

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