Next Time You Hear a Veteran Talk About the War….
Next Time You Hear a Veteran Talk About the War…
That’s right. Just listen.
Take a moment. Pull up a seat. And honor that man or woman with your attention. It’s the least you can do.
They deserve it.
Next time that crazy uncle in your family brings up a conflict from many years ago that left scars, listen. Next time your co-worker mentions that he served in Iraq or Afghanistan, listen. Next time some guy at the bar talks about Vietnam or Desert Storm, listen. And if you’re extraordinarily fortunate to meet one of the very few remaining World War II or Korean War veterans — keep completely silent.
You might not see the scars. But as sure as you can hear their voices, trembling as they sometimes might to make it through the remembrance without breaking down, those scars are there. Sometimes, they never heal. The pain never goes away.
And for some reason, whatever reason, he thinks you are the one worthy of hearing his tale.
Consider yourself lucky.
Consider yourself blessed.
Today is Memorial Day. That doesn’t just mean a day off of work or an excuse to drive to the beach. No. It’s so much more than that. Today should be a day of reflection. And remembrance. And above all — appreciation — for those who have sacrificed the most.
The hour and the day will inevitably come when you will meet a veteran. And if it all feels right, that special person might talk with you about what they witnessed, about their personal experiences, and about those he remembers who is now gone. Forever.
It is our responsibility to listen. It’s our duty to remember what they did and never forget those who made the supreme sacrifice and can’t be here.
They would like to be here. But they’re gone. Hundreds of thousands. Beneath the soil or under the seas. They can’t tell you their story. They never will. About what it feels like to storm a beach, or get shot at, or blown up and split in two. Or placed into a casket with a red, white, and blue flag. Or buried. Or perhaps never found. They can’t speak to us. Their voices are now with the wind.
But their words are still here. Those who are now gone speak to us through the survivors. Veterans of battle and fear and scenes no human should ever have been born to witness. Veterans sitting with us at our family reunions, inside our offices, at our bars, or in the most tragic of cases — still in rehabilitation centers and veterans hospitals.
They are all around us, and when the time is right for them, they will speak.
Please take a few minutes to watch — and listen — to this wonderful remembrance by the late actor Charles Durning which took place at the National Memorial Day Concert in Washington a few years ago. Note: Charles Durning appears about one minute into the clip.
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