Monday, May 25, 2015

A Sort of Memorial Day Story

I posted the following brief true tale to Facebook while toasting the dead, war and otherwise, a couple nights ago. People seemed to respond to the sentiments, and seeing those men and thecrowd responding to them certainly left an impression on me, so I thought I'd post it here.
A Sort of Memorial Day Story
A couple weeks ago I was in the dear old BWI airport awaiting my flight, inbound from Maine. The gate attendant let us know that thirty WWII and Korea vets were coming in on the flight, soon to visit war memorials in DC. Could we please give them a warm welcome? Twenty nine men came off the airplane in wheelchairs, smiling and waving to the vigorous applause we provided throughout the terminal. There was one guy--just one--who walked off under his own steam, a large man leaning on a cane but moving at a rapid clip. He also smiled, but maybe his smile was a little tighter than those of his brothers-in-arms, and he didn't have any patience for waving. I found it impossible not to imagine him barking and waving his cane at the attendants trying to ferry him off the plane-- "Wheelchair? What makes you think I need a goddamn wheelchair, you goddamn idjit?"--as he lurched heavily to his feet. I clapped and cheered for all thirty, but I have to to confess I clapped especially hard for him, and I hope that he is as every bit as cantankerous in real life as he is in the fictional one I imagined for him.
To quote Bill Callahan, "I never served my country"--but I have enormous respect for those who did and do. Thank you.

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