Old Men and Their Wars
by James Glaser
July 27, 2015
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A lady I know called me on the phone and said she and some friends were coming to Madison County to see Blue Springs. Blue Springs is a natural spring and great swimming hole that was just voted the best swimming hole in America in a USA Today contest. She asked if they could swing by and get a tour of my tree house, and I said sure.

It was a nice day, especially for July in North Florida. It had been in the high 90s every day for a couple of weeks, but that day was overcast and in the low 80s with a nice breeze. When they got to my place, the lady had her brother and his wife and her mother and her friend along. Her mother's friend turned out to be a WWII Marine who had hit the beach at Iwo Jima. He told me he had been on several of the islands, but Iwo was the only one he went on with the first wave of Marines. He was tall and skinny as a rail, almost looked frail, but he was game to go up and look at my tree house and tower.

As the two of us walked over, I was trying to calculate his age. I figured he had to have been born in the 1920s which would put him in his 90s for sure if he was making beach landings with the Marines. So I had to ask him if he still remembered it. He said, "Every day."

Parker Corner was the barber in Northome, Minnesota, where I lived much of my adult life. He was a PFC in WWII, and he and I were in the VFW together. I remember his saying that almost every day something would make him think of that war. Maybe that thought stuck around just for a minute or maybe for the rest of the day.

I'm no spring chicken anymore, but both of these two guys could have been my father, as my Dad was in WWII also. My war was over 40 years ago in Vietnam. I have been hoping for all of these years that someday it would all be forgotten, but that day has not come yet. It doesn't take much. Just the flash of the sun on a piece of metal or the smell after a rain or walking through wet grass, or a helicopter overhead, or some kid screaming even if they are at play, or maybe just a quiet moment, or a busy one where I am doing some repetitive task that allows my mind to wander. It doesn't take much to bring something back from my time in the Nam, and I bet it is the same for those two guys, too.

I wish young people would realize this. When Washington sends you off to war, it is for a lifetime, even if you do make it back home.

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