November 11, 2014
I once had a neighbor, an elderly man, whom I mainly saw when he was out mowing his lawn or using his snowblower. He'd always be smoking a cigar, because his wife wouldn't let him smoke in the house. We'd smile and wave, and that would be that.
One day I was at the local history museum, and saw an article about Frank. Seems he had been a Commando in World War II. (If you don't know what the Commandos did, look it up. They were a pretty impressive bunch of guys.) He was taken prisoner, escaped from a German POW camp that had a hellish commandant, returned to action and was captured again. He was sent to a different camp; but it was run by the same horrible man. I can't even imagine what his feelings were.
The thing is, Frank didn't brag. As far as I knew, he was just a nice guy whose wife wouldn't let him smoke cigars in the house.
A lot of people, not just veterans, do amazing things that they don't talk about. So the next time you find yourself next to a stranger, treat him or her as if they have done something wonderful.
Who knows? Maybe they have.