I lived in a small house 514 12th Ave in Rock Falls, IL for the first 18 years of my life. The memory has faded a bit over the years but still, certain events are at the forefront of my childhood.
I was 7 years old. It was 1968. Vietnam was a full-scale inferno. It was early November and my mom said "Veterans Day is today son" and I replied "What does that mean Mom, I thought today is Tuesday?" Then she explained how it was still Tuesday but a day set aside to honor and remember and give our thanks to the Veterans in our community who had served in the military.
"Oh" I said. "Then I can go thank Bobby?" "Yes you can," she said.
I remember that we had a giant tractor tire filled with sand in our backyard to play in. Standing up on the edge of it I could look across the alley to the Bradley’s house. That is where Bobby had come to visit his sister. His car wasn't in the driveway so I knew he was gone but maybe just maybe he would be back. So I waited. I don't know how many circles I ran on that tire but I was getting tired, eventually I heard Bobby pull up. He looked different. Normally he always arrived in a green uniform and a maroon hat that looked funny on his head. After being home a few days he was always in jeans and a t-shirt but today he was back in uniform. "Hey Bobby! Bobbbbbyyy! over here!" and I waved. "My mom told me it was Veterans Day today! Thank you!" and I remember his next act as if it were yesterday. He snapped to attention and saluted me, a 7 year old boy standing on a tractor tire. I never saw him after that day. Months later my mom told me he had died.
I think of him often, maybe more now that I really understand the importance of reaching out to a Veteran on this day. So that’s my story, what's yours?