It Is The Soldier
By Charles M. Province, U.S. Army - 1970
It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.
I had an encounter with a Korean War veteran last night that inspired me to post the above poem on my blog. It is a favorite of mine, because we owe all of our freedoms -- including freedom of the press --- in this country to those who have fought and died for them. Remember them today, on Memorial Day.
While it's important to honor fallen veterans on Memorial Day, I was reminded yesterday how important it is also to not forget to thank them while they are still with us, living and working in our own communities.
I started a part-time job at a grocery store just before Christmas. My main objective was to earn money towards purchasing a police scanner -- since the convenient phone app I'd grown accustomed to listening to in the past couple years was suddenly yanked offline. Surprisingly, I'm not as dependent on it now that it is back up and running. After years of reporting, I know some of the best stories just come right to me or happen oustide my own front door, so to speak.
In any case, I haven't quit the side job at the store.
Last night, an elderly customer approached me in Aisle Eight. A very polite tall, older gentleman, he was sorry to interrupt me, when he asked where a particular item was located. I told him I'd walk with him to Aisle 13 and show him exactly where to find it. As we walked slowly, I noticed he had a limp --- walking through the big store was a challenge.
He asked, "Are you a local girl?" I said yes, I've lived in Terre Haute all my life. I asked him if he had, too.
He replied that yes, he had -- In fact, the only "vacation" he took away from here was when he went off to war in the 1950s, when he injured his leg. He then pointing to his knee, the reason for his alterered gait.
He apologized to me again for interrupting my work. And he said he was also sorry for walking slowly, explaining he is 80-years-old. I told him I am more than happy to help him. It was an honor, and I thanked hin for serving in the military. When we got to the where the juice he was looking for is located on the shelf, he noted that it was for his friend -- who was paralyzed in the war.
Honestly, it was a moment where the "reporter hat" wanted to go back on, especially for the timeliness of the story -- on the evening before Memorial Day. It would have been great to get out my pen and paper, get his name, listen to more war stories and take his picture. That would've been a little awkward for everyone, though, since that was not my role there in the first place.
Terre Haute Times
When I went back to college to pursue a journalism degree, I was already married with two children.
It was the year 2000. I had been married for a couple years with a child from a previous relationship, Emily. She was finishing Kindergarten. Alex was one- year -old ---and suddenly, I felt it was time to go back to college.
Let me stress this now --- this was the exact moment I realized the marriage was not working. My husband did not adjust with the new schedule. It was a great challenge to continue my education with that and the many other obstacles we faced, but I managed as best I could. I can say it was a defining moment. The marriage was indeed over.
My now-ex-husband seemed to cave with the added responsibilities, as I headed back to the classroom. He knew I loved journalism. And, although he thought he knew I also loved United States History ---that would be the final straw in our union.
I won't ever forget it --- one night in particular, as I sat at the dining room table, reading a book for a history class assignment -- which was my declared minor. My son was fidgeting. My daughter was watching a cartoon on TV. Alex was getting restless. Emily was being argumentative with her step-dad, as I was engrossed in the assigned biography written by Stephen B. Oates -- With Malice Toward None.
He approached me and demanded I put the book down. When I didn't comply, he grabbed it and tore the paperback book in half.. I still have the two separated parts of the book, which I was somehow actually able to finish reading on time.
The book was a biography of Abraham Lincoln --whom I obviously adore. And, I still think it is one of the best biographies I've ever read.Most people whom have ever known me, know I enjoy the Civil War and our 16th president a great deal.
I don't know now--- if it had been any other subject -- if the attack would have cut so deep. Not many people believed me back then, because he is not known -- even by his closest family members -- to have a temper like that, they said. And, he still denies he did it to this day. He didn't support my goals.His actions proved he wasn' t up to many other tasks.
That is just one example of what I dealt with as I tried to move forward.
Journalist, Terre Haute
Lucy Perry, 45, enjoys writing about issues in her hometown. She periodically expresses personal opinions in her blog, Terre Haute Times.
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News Writer: Lucy Pery PHONE: 317-527-4141