Thursday, July 14, 2011


Normally, any occasional medical attention that I need can be obtained at a nearby extension of Veterans Hospital and those who sit with me there, waiting to see the doctor, are much like this old man. We may be well beyond our prime, but other than that which age brings to all of us, the proof of our having served is simply documented on paper somewhere. Wednesday, however, found me at the main facility, a thirty minute drive up the Interstate, where finding a place to park is like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack, the lot, itself, a wasted effort. Two blocks away, up a little narrow side-street, the un-ending chain of automobiles was finally broken. I parked, walked to the front entrance, and immediately noted a difference in the patients gathered there, outside where the smoking lamp was lit. Many had prosthetic arms or legs, evidence aplenty that my ten years in the Navy during the Viet Nam era was not much more than a Carnival Line cruise compared to the hell others had known. In the waiting room, an elder gentleman, whose hat more so than his physical appearance let me suspect our age to be similar, yet possessed all his limbs, but nonetheless seemed marked by a battlefield once encountered. What cut me to the quick, though, was seeing the same receptionist who, seated behind her desk on the other side of an open window, had just received me, a moment later pass through the area before me, confined to her wheelchair…..I wear that hat, pictured above, with pride; but never without a realization of so many others having given so much more than I. I believe, not simply in this country, but in those original convictions upon which it was founded. God save us from ourselves…..

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