We remember our deceased veterans on Memorial Day, think about vets with pride on the Fourth of July and honor all veterans on Veterans Day. However, the other day, just a plain, ordinary non-holiday, I thought of veterans when I was cutting up a watermelon.
The watermelon brought back fond memories of a special summer treat provided by the Veterans of Foreign Wars guys in our town. They bought dozens of watermelons and served them ice-cold to hundreds of kids. The vets had lost none of the nerve they had showed in combat to be willing to put up with that many seed-spitting kids.
Of course, veterans’ organizations are noted for their kindness and generosity. The VFW and American Legion also staged Christmas parties for many youngsters every year. Most vets’ groups are involved in similar and other types of charity.
As young baby boomers in the late 1950s and the 1960s, my brothers and I were beneficiaries of the generosity of veterans from the Greatest Generation, guys who served during World War II and in the Korean War. They included many men forever changed by what they had experienced.
Many had fellow friends and comrades who never came back. Many had seen the kinds of physical, emotional and psychological wounds and scars war can inflict. Some carried those wounds and scars. They had seen firsthand the tremendous suffering and hardship inflicted on innocent people, ranging from infants to the very old.
Despite all those life-changing experiences — or probably because of them — the veterans returned home and tried to make their community a better place to live. Veterans continue to do this. Maybe they do it for the men and women who didn’t make it home. Maybe they do it to help those who carry scars of another kind. Maybe they do it because their loved ones did not have to experience what others did.
If we have faith in our community, faith in humanity and, most of all, faith of God, we can be changed by making something horrible prompt us to do good.
Love can transform pain.