Memorial Day 2015
It was back in the old neighborhood. My friends and I were all of twelve and thirteen years old at the time. We spent a good deal of time just hanging out on the corner with nothing better to do.
There was an old man who lived somewhere just up the street. We’d seen him now and then. He was thin, wrinkled, balding and stooped, and walked by with a bit of a halting gait. Somehow one day we got to talking with him.
He told us he was a war veteran. In those days World War II veterans like my uncles were pretty much still hale and hearty but this guy was older than them. He was a veteran of WW I. The ranks of World War I veterans were thinning quickly day by day by then.
He told us his story of how he was wounded. He even unbuckled his belt and lowered his trousers a bit and showed us his scar. He was shot in the ass while trying to take a shit.
I immediately felt sorry for him. Not because he was shot but the way he was shot. I thought to myself this poor bastard has to live out his life defending that dubious achievement, as some folks might interpret it as cowardice for turning his back on the enemy, even if only for a moment.
As a veteran myself I know better now – Fortunes of War.