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.
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