Honor our veterans before “soon” ticks on past.


Sometimes, “soon” is too late.

Sometimes, we don’t get around to “soon” soon enough.

Sometimes, “soon” means time has run out.

Sometimes, “soon” means you have to tell yourself it wasn’t supposed to come to this.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

We were there in the cemetery.

There with the nearby, comforting, sturdy, steadying oak.

There where the white dove had just been released, lifting spirits.

There beneath the soft blue, sun-blessed sky.

There where the men of the military had just smartly, snappily folded the flag that had covered the casket, the flag that had flown over the U. S. Capitol Building, and presented it to the family.

There where the bagpiper had sent forth the soothing sounds of Amazing Grace as surely no other instrument can.

There on Veterans Day.

There at eleven minutes – and in the minutes just before and just after that — after the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

Two years ago.

It wasn’t supposed to be that way.

No, on this eleventh minute of the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month we were supposed to be having lunch with our second oldest brother.

Lunch with our brother and other siblings and other family members.

There to salute him, honor him for his Army infantry service in the Pacific Theatre in World War II.

The military service he – like so many others from that era which we now call the Greatest Generation – did not talk much about.

But which was much a part of him, of them.

The military service he went away to as a kid.

That harshly took him to manhood, the way war can, does.

The service that, as he mentioned a time or two, from which he felt he would not return.

The service which, fortunately, we did get him to talk about – though minimally – in his final months over breakfast at a quiet, small, neighborhood restaurant.

We planned to use this late-gained information to prepare a small book that told his wartime story – along with some information obtained from military sources and other family members – to be presented to him at a family luncheon on that Veterans Day.

In recent years, we had thought about, planned to do that.


Sometime soon.

We had worked on it some.

But not enough.

Then time, events dictated otherwise.

Eventually, we rushed to complete the book.

But not soon enough for him to receive it.

Soon came too soon.

We knew he was terminally ill.

We didn’t know “terminal” would come so soon.

Hours before the hoped-for luncheon, he began to slip from us.

Then soon was here.

All too soon he was gone.

So on that Veterans Day, instead of being there to honor him with a family luncheon, we were there to say goodbye to him.

There in the quietude of the cemetery.

There by the sturdy, steadying oak.

There in the moving moment of the smartly folded flag.

There when the white dove took wing, offering up hope even in that sad, final moment.

There when Amazing Grace amazingly offered us grace.

Soon had caught up with us.

Outpaced us.

Brought the last tick of the clock.

The final moment of that life.

In days, the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month will be here again.

Then all too soon it too will be gone.

Which hastens the question:

Is there a veteran you would salute, honor?

And quickens the answer.

Do it now.

Now, before “soon” ticks by.

That phone call, that letter, that visit over coffee, that luncheon of honor you now and then have meant to get around to, do it now.

Now, while “soon” still is with you.

Still possible.

Now, before time runs out.

Now, before the oak and the dove and the flag and the bagpiper are there with you.

And the one you would salute, the one you would honor is not.

 Roger Summers is a journalist and essayist who spends time in Texas, New Mexico and England and in a world of curiosity and creativity. He can be reached at wrsummers@sbcglobal.net. Please click the book title, Heart Songs from a Washboard Road, to read more about Roger’s Short Story Collection.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Related Posts