I will shake the hand of my favorite U.S. veteran

Published 11:00 pm Saturday, November 10, 2012

I will rise this morning, Lord willing, and thank my favorite veteran. It’s an annual ritual, no pomp or pageantry, just a handshake or a hug to let him know that I appreciate his sacrifices, the likes of which I cannot — and hopefully never will, fathom.

He was born country in Mississippi. Raised a bit of hell as a youngster, but is a great man who wouldn’t hurt a fly, a man who was brought almost to tears when he lifted a piece of machinery to find a nest full of struggling baby birds who were now exposed to the elements.

He never asked to be sent 6,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean to fight in an unpopular war in an unpopular place. I ask him very little about his experience over there. I don’t want to know what he saw.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Those who have never served, never had to face the prospect of being drafted, have no idea what the men and women have gone through. I have never taken up arms to defend this country, but every blessing I enjoy of being here, in this place, is owed to the blood and sacrifice of people like my favorite veteran.

The annual Veterans Day remembrance is set for this morning at 11 at the Municipal Rose Garden at Monroe and South streets. Veterans from current wars to World War II and all conflicts in between will gather with patriotic spirit. It’s a small gesture to remind those veterans that we will never forget their sacrifice.

Some happily will tell their stories of beating back the Germans and the Japanese in World War II. Some will remain in the background.

In New York, my adopted Uncle Tim will put fingers to guitar strings to sing his song “The Wall,” and ode to those who never came home and are memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

“And every name’s a father or a husband or a son,

“Or a daughter or a brother or a cousin to someone;

“Or a name might be a classmate or a friend you may recall:

“There’s nearly sixty thousand fallen names still waiting at The Wall.”

By the grace of God, my favorite veteran and my Uncle Tim’s names are not on that wall. I weep for those whose names are.

Such a small gesture, a handshake or a hug, to those who do what most of us cannot, and who see things most of us do not want to see.

They’ll appreciate it, but not nearly as much as I will.

Sean P. Murphy can be reached at smurphy@vicksburgpost.com