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.
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.