Commentary by Jon Quick
I have always had a soft spot in my heart for veterans. I can easily relate having had several relatives who served in WWII, and others who fought in Viet Nam and Iraq.
It was emotional and inspiring to see so many WWII vets in the Carmel 4th of July Parade. People stood and cheered them on. They all wore smiles as they waved back at us, showing such great pride.
It is hard to believe how quickly the WWII vets are vanishing. “Now in their 80s and 90s, we lose one every two minutes — at the rate of just over 600 a day,” according to the US Veterans Administration. “By 2036, it is estimated there will be no living veterans of World War II left.”
I had the privilege to personally meet one more of these living treasures later that day. I made a quick stop at Kroger to buy some last minute items for our cookout.
You know who they are. They wear the caps that tell a bit of their history – whether it be Pearl Harbor Veteran, USS Indianapolis, or their Infantry Division.
As I turned down the meat aisle to buy my brats I saw him. His cap said WWII Medic.
His name was Tom. After I thanked him for his service, he smiled. We talked for a long time as he freely and proudly told me of his amazing experiences as a medic on overseas duty. He shared the stories as if they had just happened yesterday. “I’ve always wondered what happened to some of my buddies,” Tom said. I could see a trace of a tear in his eye.
Tom’s wife passed many years ago. He still walks with his dog Bumper every day. “That rascal keeps me going!” Tom exclaimed.
I asked him if he was in the Carmel parade earlier that 4th of July. There was that smile again as he said, “Oh that too. What fun that was!”
Stay well, Tom. I’ll see you again next year, God willing.