Thursday, November 12, 2015
Before I get started, I wanted to draw your attention to a new link over there on the sidebar, at the very top under "A Good Cause." First, go read this. I'll wait right here. Take your time, it's important.
The Skipper is an awesome blogger and a personal friend. So rather than go on about this wonderful cause myself, I thought I'd let him do the heavy lifting.
Yesterday was, of course, Veterans Day. My place of employment, as they do every year, held a ceremony at 11:00 AM. This year, due to weather, we held the ceremony in the front lobby of the building, it's a fairly spacious venue.
This year, as in years past, we had World War II veterans in attendance. Sadly, their numbers dwindle each year. This year two of the men were Marine veterans, Marines who survived the Battle of Iwo Jima. I was privileged to shake hands with both men, now in their 90s.
One of the old Marines was still pretty spry, stood up to shake my hand and was alert and happy to be there.
The other man was in a wheel chair, he looked tired and very worn. His gaze seemed to look well beyond the space of our building's foyer. When I shook his hand, it was like holding a thin bag of old sticks. He seemed diminished by age, sitting there in that wheel chair.
But after I thanked him for what he had done, not really sure that he had heard me, not really sure that he was aware of what was going on around him, something struck me, and struck me hard.
Those thin hands had once held an M-1 rifle, that nearly vacant stare had once looked out upon the shell torn waste of that black sand island as his landing craft churned towards the beach. That man sitting in his wheelchair, looking so small and worn, was once a strong young Marine, going with his buddies into the Hell of combat.
Thousands died, Japanese and American, thousands more were wounded, physically and psychologically by the brutality of battle on that volcanic speck in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean. But he survived. Somehow he came home after the war, lived a long life and lo these many years later came to sit in this corporate structure and be feted and congratulated by people much younger than he.
What must his thoughts be like? I know that we who thanked him for his service will never know what he endured, what it took for him to make it home. We just cannot understand, it is beyond our capacity to understand unless we've been there ourselves. Even still, we cannot fathom exactly what he experienced, 70 years ago as a young man still in his prime. I pray though that we will remember.
One last thing, before I leave you to your day.
Google will often have a doodle of one sort or another on their search page. Oft times it's something somewhat obscure, like the birthday of some semi-obscure poet, writer or other forgotten (by most) luminary of yore. But yesterday, on Veterans Day, they had this -
I liked it, I liked it a lot. So I grabbed a copy to preserve for posterity.
Well done, Google. Well done.