I am posting this one a little out of order as it has to do with Veteran's Day. About 30 minutes before a Veteran's Day parade was about to begin, Earl and Mary pulled up on a Honda motorcycle. Mary wore a helmet, but Earl wore a red soft hat, sort of like a beret, and a leather vest with several patches. I Googled Veteran's hats and found nothing like it. Anyway, Earl looked pretty cool.
So I walked out to the side of the street and told him so. He was OK with 100 Strangers, but I saw no hint of a smile and his affect was sort of flat.
I said that I supposed that he was a Veteran. He said no, but that his son was and was killed in Afghanistan in 2008 – he pointed to a “Fallen But Not Forgotten” patch on his chest.
I was momentarily stunned, and my faux chattiness instantly evaporated. I mumbled something like “So sorry” as Earl waved dismissively and said, “That's just the way it is.” I offered breakfast, or coffee and a pastry but he said no; at least I got a momentary smile.
After he walked away to some buddies, I made small talk with Mary, who is the fallen soldier's stepmother. I was so taken by gravity the moment that this polite banter seems meaningless.
Some would keep the image in color, to showcase the hat. I feel that color detracts from the hardship that God and six years have etched into that face.
“Often the faces speak what words can never say”, Carl Sandberg.