“The Old Veteran”
It was April 1983 a year I can’t forget
For on that day in April a special man I met.
He was old and slightly bent over standing near the Vietnam Wall
A cane in hand he walked to it, I feared that he might fall.
I walked over and watched as he raised a trembling hand,
With tears welling up in his eyes pointed to a name on that stand.
I asked him if he knew the man upon whose name his hand he laid.
That is my son he replied, the ultimate price he paid.
He told me how it broke his heart and his wife’s heart too
When the knock came on their door and a chaplain brought the news.
I saw stitched to the coat he wore a patch of the Big Red One
He said he served in the army back in 1941.
“Back then”, he said “we served with pride, crowds cheered our sacrifice.
But when my son’s friends came home the reception was cold as ice.”
His wife, he said, had passed away now there are only memories
Of the wife he loved and his late son to keep him company.
He said that he had found a group with whom he could confide
And set those feelings free that for years he’d kept inside.
They were veterans just like him who met each week to bond.
Many had been where he now stands, they walked on common ground.
There are a few from World War II, Korea and Vietnam
And a couple of those brave souls who deployed to Afghanistan.
They all know those who gave some and some who gave their all
They show respect for Old Glory when saluting, standing tall.
That old man recently passed away joining his wife and son,
Where he’ll give them a hug then raise a toast to his buddies of the Big Red One.
To him and to all who served when they heard our nation calling
I pledge to always stand for the flag and kneel for all who have fallen.
John R. Stoeffler
5108 Brittany Drive South #302
St. Petersburg, Florida 33715
See Also: The Right Way to Honor Veterans
God Bless the U.S.A.
And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me