It’s clear by the way you treat me that you don’t know me.
To you I am just an old man who moves too slowly. A nuisance. I am someone who annoys you because I don’t move faster.
To you I am useless. Taking up space.
To you I shouldn’t drive or even be allowed to write a check because I am too old and too slow.
To you I am worthless. Nothing.
However, I am really a 16 year old boy running through the blood and flesh of my brothers on the beach of Normandy.
I am weaponless taking refuge behind the bluffs in hopes of surviving the next night with only 7 of the 30 comrades that I arrived with.
I am also a 17 year old freezing with no food and sitting in the snow near my foxhole buddy who just took a bullet to the head.
I am a boy who was shot in the arm but not dead yet. I am someone who last felt my toes fully during the trek into Bastogne. I am the one who shared a morsel of frozen cheese with 2 others from rations of the German soldier that just killed three of us.
I am a man who has to return home to fight with memories of war while holding down my job and trying to raise a family.
I am a frozen 26 year old breathing shallow into my armpit amongst the remains of my fallen brothers who have been stacked like cordwood. The one the enemy is looking for as they walk back and forth through the trench firing rounds into the massive piles. I am the man who just took a bullet in the stomach before the enemy departs to find more of us to kill. I am the man who despite my injuries and the fact that I don’t know if I am in China or Korea pulled fourteen American soldiers to safety.
I am a 28 year old man back at home again having not only fought a war that no one recognized, I have missed two years of my life as well as the death of my only son to pneumonia, something I fought many times in Korea to be able to return home to see him again. I am the man who helps his neighbor, gives to the poor and loves this country. I am the man who mourns daily for the loss of many brothers.
I am a 36 year old man who is leading soldiers through a jungle full of the enemy. I am a soldier unaware that by the end of 9 months I will have lost 2 of my 4 platoons and become a prisoner of war. I am a man who will be tortured repeatedly until negotiations would be made for my return home. By then I am a man with a many broken bones and a town who spits in my face for serving them and this country.
I am a man who lost his wife to cancer and his lungs to Agent Orange.
I am a man who is proud to have served this country.
So next time you get annoyed with me for moving too slowly remember that’s who I am.
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