The Old Veteran

Celebrating the courage of those who continue to fight

I know an old veteran
in my neighborhood
who lives in his house all alone.
Though he’s dressed like a pauper,
you’d think him a king
most deserving a crown and a throne.

He sits in his wheelchair
remembering tanks
in which he once sat years ago.
His memory may falter,
but he still recalls
the details of war we don’t know.

He thinks of those battles
when fear won the day
and grown men (like boys) wept for mom.
Those foxhole conversions
and frontline assaults
made him pray that he’d live to see dawn.

And he did, although wounded.
The soldier came home.
But sadly he’d not walk again.
His Uncle Sam called him
a hero most brave.
A nephew he proudly called kin.

The veteran then married
the love of his life
who cherished her soldier as gold.
They couldn’t have children,
but never complained
convinced that as one they’d grow old.

But cancer thought different
and came in-between.
At sixty, his wife passed away.
And two decades later,
he still battles grief.
The old veteran fights sadness each day.

His uniform’s faded
but hangs neatly pressed
near the wedding gown Sally once wore.
Two closeted symbols
of promises made
at an altar and frontlines of war.

I love that old veteran.
I call him my friend.
His courage convicts me to fight.
When I’m feeling defeated
or lost in the dark,
I just look down my street and see light.