“Practice the pause. Pause before judging. Pause before assuming. Pause before accusing. Pause whenever you’re about to react harshly and you’ll avoid doing and saying things you’ll later regret.” ~ Lori Deschene
Today is my actual day of birth though I’ve obviously been celebrating over the past few days. Besides, nobody wants to celebrate a birthday when it falls on a Monday. So, I celebrated today a different way. I took dad to a series of doctors appointments. During his first appointment at the VA, he regaled me with stories about each scar on his hands. Many of them came from knife fights in the coal camps where he grew up. He was a gang leader, so you can imagine the rough and tumble boyhood that gave him. The most impressive scars showed the perfectly aligned indentation of an Army opponent’s teeth across his right knuckles. I don’t think dad knocked his teeth out, but I doubt the guy talked for a time (his teeth went clean through his lip). At his second appointment we met a vet from the Iraq War. He saw dad’s Special Forces hat and began to tell us about his being a Black Hawk crew chief and taking out Saddam Hussain. It wasn’t clear if he was on that particular mission, but it was obvious – physically and experientially – that he had seen combat nearby. All combat vets have scars. You can’t always see them. The other thing you can’t see is an immeasurable fortitude. Guys like dad who train for the hardest missions are tougher than we mere mortals could ever imagine; mentally and physically. If you’ve never seen two of these guys meet up, the depth of that spirit may not be obvious, but when they get to talking, you get a small glimpse of the kind of men it takes to win wars. In no way am I glorifying war – nobody wins a war as far as I can tell, not even the victors – but I am in awe of the selflessness it takes to be a combat soldier. Our Hero is one of the best soldiers this country has ever had, and hanging out with him is the best birthday I could ask for.