Not only is tomorrow Veteran’s Day, but today is the 242nd birthday of the United States Marine Corps.
I knew a young dude a few years ago who was a marine and a combat veteran of several tours in Iraq. We worked together at the time, and during our smoke breaks, he would sometimes describe his experiences to me. He once told me that when you’re in a firefight, a piece of the wall you’re pushed up against or some concrete from the street will explode half a second before you hear the pop. He lived alone when I knew him, and he told me that sometimes at night, he’ll hear a strange noise, and he’ll go through each room with his weapon drawn, only to discover it was just the wind or a tree branch tapping against the window.
At the time, I was 40. He was 24.
It humbles me to this day to think about the horrific experiences this young man endured in the service and protection of this great nation of ours. It humbles me to think about what he endured once he got home. After one particularly gruesome story, he asked me, “How do you go back to your small town life after that?!” I didn’t have an answer for him. At his young age, he had already lived a thousand lives. His world was something I could never possibly understand.
We lost touch once I moved to Texas. I pray that wherever he is, he has found some peace in his heart.
He was a good man. A better man than I’ll ever be.
Thank you for your service, Vinnie.
I miss you, brother.