While watching the 2012 Olympics, cheering on the splendid athletes and marveling at the pageantry, my mind is elsewhere.
A veteran of the Korean War, in his mid-eighties, lived in an RV on my neighbor's land. He used to help with her horses and goats, but recently he stayed in the RV, watching television, and singing. he was a quiet man, very deaf, very private. His name was Alan.
Alan died this morning.
A few years ago Tom Brokaw called the veterans of Worlld War 2 our Greatest Generation, and I won't argue with that. Millions of young men and women stepped forward to defend this country and the world against the vicious tides of totalitarianism and cruelty.
But only five years later, young Americans were called forward again, to defend a small Asian country against invasion, in something that wasn't even dignified by the name of war...it was a police action.
We all remember Pearl harbor and Normandy...but how many recall Inchon, and the Chosin Reservoir? yet the suffering was as great, if not greater. Those who died are just as dead.
And those who lived, lived in the shadow of Glory. They fought a forgotten war, and many of them felt just as forgotten.
Alan drove a tank in Korea. I'd always meant to ask him about his experiences. Now it's too late.
Do you know any veterans of Korea? At the grocery store of the mall, have you ever seen an old man wearing a baseball cap that marks him as a veteran of that war?
If you do...shake his hand. He put everything on the line, by choice or not, for you. Please grant him the courtesy of remembering.