One Old Sage

Thoughts, Stories, and Bits of Wisdom

I saw a man today…

I saw a man today. He was sitting on his walker next to one of the “Stop” signs at a four way stop.

This man sat in the pouring rain holding a hand lettered cardboard sign. The sign read “I am a Veteran and any help would be appreciated. God Bless”. He had an umbrella but it wasn’t helping much.

I saw a man who was willing to sit in the cold and the rain to try and get a little money to improve his existence.

I saw a man who needed money more than he needed his dignity.

I saw a man who accepted rejection as cars drove past.

I saw a man who probably understood that people didn’t want to get out of their nice warm cars in the pouring rain to help an old veteran.

I saw a man who had served his country and was begging on the side of the road.

3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment holds the American ...

3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment holds the American and Canadian flags outside the Canadian Embassy. RCMP Corporal Bill Finlay leads the regiment. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I drove past; after all, this man hadn’t served my country. I was just a visitor here.

I thought of this man as I enjoyed my coffee and muffin while he sat in the rain. Why should I worry about another country’s veteran? It’s not my problem is it?

Actually, yes it is.

Although I don’t know this man’s history, he may have served next to my country’s service men and women and made it possible for one of them to come home to their family. He may have saved one of his own countrymen with the same result. Or, he may have simply served his country with dignity and honor and then taken a discharge.

But does it really matter how, when, where or with what country he served?

The important part is that he volunteered to serve and did what was asked of him.

In this man, I saw some of my country’s veterans and I was saddened.

I left the coffee shop and stopped at the side of the road near the man and walked up to him. I saw a tired man of indeterminate age, clear but sad eyes, and a reddish beard with lots of grey. His clothes were clean but well used. He was a lonely man simply trying to get by.

I made a donation to his cause and I saw tears well up as he said a simple “Thank you and God Bless”

You see, today I saw a man who could have been me if I was a veteran.

13 comments on “I saw a man today…

  1. coachdaddyblogger
    July 8, 2013

    Nelson – I admire the way you couldn’t proceed with your day without conceding to compassion. Too often we are numb to the needs of a man like this, because it’s more convenient to assume he’s lazy or drunk or otherwise unworthy of our consideration.

    But no matter what his plight, he’s put before us for a reason – what will we do when we pass a man who, as you eloquently stated, had set aside his dignity because he needed money.

    You did what we should do. Bible lesson or no, it’s the right thing to do.

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      July 8, 2013

      Thanks Coach. As my brother commented, this man is out there everyday rain or shine. He has a tremendous work ethic for someone who is “jobless”. This is obviously his job. I hope he does well at it. I find it interesting that we become quite numbed to the plight of our homeless and street people. Even in our small city, they are standing on street corners, in front of liquor and food stores begging for money. There is a tendency on my part to pass most of them but every now and then I see someone like the veteran who is obviously just trying to get by. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Diane Henders
    April 9, 2013

    Beautifully written. My favourite great-uncle fought at Vimy Ridge (and came back, unlike so many). My niece and nephew are both in the Forces now, and I couldn’t be more proud of them. I wish everyone had your respect and compassion for veterans.

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      April 9, 2013

      Thank you Diane your comments mean a lot to me.

      My Dad was a veteran of WWII. He left behind my Mom and two older brothers so that he could serve. He saw service overseas and fought in several campaigns. He was part of the detail that guarded Kurt Meyer a senior commander in the Waffen SS who was found guilty of condoning but not directly killing unarmed Allied prisoners.

      Interestingly, Dad held no animosity toward him. At his trial Meyer said “by the Canadian Army I was treated as a soldier and that the proceedings were fairly conducted.” It was Dad’s final assignment before he was shipped home.

      Nelson

  3. ramblingsfromamum
    April 8, 2013

    Nelson, I am glad I am following you. You are a man of strength, knowledge and a humanitarian combined with ‘sage musings’ on life. Your respect for this man showed in this post. It was a pleasure to read. Thank you.

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      April 9, 2013

      Thank you very much for your kind words. It’s comments like yours that keep me going.
      Nelson

      • ramblingsfromamum
        April 9, 2013

        You are most welcome Nelson, we all need encouragement..and praise when it is due.

  4. Lynette d'Arty-Cross
    April 8, 2013

    Wonderful post, Nelson. I am a veteran and come from a family of veterans, so I find what you did very touching. Thanks. :)

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      April 9, 2013

      First thank you and your family for serving. My father was also a veteran having served in WWII. He was accepted for service on the third attempt even though he had my mom and two older brothers at home. He spent two years overseas. Needless to say, I’m glad he survived but I know he had demons that he carried with him until he died.

      Thank you again for serving.
      Nelson

  5. Kelvin Armstrong
    April 8, 2013

    I know where that man sits at the stop sign. I have stopped many times and gave a dollar or two,,I thought to myself ,rain or shine he is there. It is his job,,his way of making a living. I thought of all the lazy lazy guys that I have given jobs to over the years ,,and wouldn’t,t show up for work ,,to lazy or hung over. But he shows up everyday. How I wish I had a job for him ,,he would be one hell of an employee. I wonder how many veterans are like him. Sad. Great point Nelson. Thanks

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      April 8, 2013

      Thanks Kelly. The guy really got to me as you can tell. I hope there are more people like you that will stop and help him.

  6. Jody
    April 8, 2013

    Hi Nelson! It’s Jody from Starbucks! I pulled your card out of my wallet and wanted to send a quick hello :) This is a cool thing you have going on here. I had a chance to read a couple of your blogs and I really enjoy your insight!

    Take care,
    Jody :)

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      April 8, 2013

      What a wonderful surprise! Thank you for taking the time and I’m delighted that you are enjoying them. Drop by anytime.
      Nelson

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