Through a sea of faces and as many insignia,
an experienced soldier hobbled up the restaurant aisle tonight.
His dark ball cap, tattered and worn, sat squarely atop a thinning tuft of white.
Across from our table, he stopped.
His wrinkly hand pat the diner's shoulder, firm and strong.
Once, twice, three times.
It had to be the colors.
Black and gold for Army,
the colors set in motion a connection
spanning space and time
and melding experience.
In a word: beautiful.
Next through the throng of diners, servers, and trays,
a young buck with shiny black shoes,
and medals blazing
strode with precision
past his kindred:
in sweatshirts, in hats,
clutching picture frames,
"He was in my division," my husband spoke up.
"See his colors?"
I honestly hadn't.
In fact, I'm not sure I ever have.
Last night, the third episode of "Vietnam in HD" was on TV.
I watched from over my laptop,
through my presentation planning,
and under the guise of a child whose father never fought.
But he was still drafted,
second to last in our rural county's lottery.
And he still went,
to Germany instead of Vietnam.
And his life still changed,
It had to be the colors...
I used to think that unless a soldier engaged in battle
the service wasn't 'real.'
Tonight, I know I'm wrong.
I saw it in my husband's glassy eyes when he studied
the young buck
in dress blues.
I heard it in his sturdy voice when he explained
what divisions are
what each decoration on a soldier's uniform signifies.
The colors tell the story,
written in another language
It would do me well to listenbecause the freedom
I know each day
has been paid for
It has to be the colors...