November 11, 2003
On the way into work, I pass a fire station that has one of those message boards out front. Whoever thinks of the messages - they change weekly - has a great sense of humor. Today's was a little more sentimental. It read, "Veteran's Day: Remember, ask and listen." It made me think.
My grandfather is a cook in the Pacific Theater. He cooks meals from scratch three times a day using whatever they've managed to bring in. He's most proud of the bread he bakes. Aside from his cooking duties, he has to carry a gun and shoot people. Its part of his job. Defending our country, and all.
My grandfather sits in a nursing home. He can't remember his wife, his kids or his grandkids but he remembers The War. He's lost weight and lapses into German from time to time but he doesn't forget the bread he baked or the meals he served. He keeps lists - he's got one that lists every place he served, every place his platoon was located. He's listed the guys he served with and the meals he served them. But he doesn't remember me.
That sign? Yeah, I think its a pretty important message. There are people with stories to tell of times that will hopefully will never be repeated. Its our obligation - all of us - to listen to those stories and learn from them. Someday, the story tellers will lapse into German, stop remembering the people who are trying to listen, and we'll be left with lists.