|2/8/2014 3:13:00 PM|
We don't do enough for veterans
I hadn't seen my friend the Hammer for a few months and was starting to wonder if he was doing alright when his big frame filled up my doorway.
"Timmons, how 'ya been?" he asked in a voice as rough as 12-grit sandpaper.
"Fine John. Haven't seen you in a while."
He was looking at me. I at him. The silence was a bit awkward.
"So, what brings you around today, John?"
This wasn't going to be an easy conversation.
"What's on your mind?"
"Well, last week was Veterans Day and all," he started as he ambled in and more than took up a chair. Funny thing. I never thought those chairs were small until he sat down.
"We don't do enough for our Veterans," he went on. "I saw what your paper did for the Vets with the 75 percent off and I thought that was good. There were some other businesses who did stuff, too. But I was in the store that day and saw lots of guys my age and older. You know all of them are Vets. Couple of 'em even had on military caps from the ship they probably served on and all. I didn't see one person stop them and say thank you."
"Well, John, it is kind of awkward to say something to a stranger, especial-"
I didn't get to finish the sentence.
"The hell it is!" he erupted. "If it wasn't for those old guys, you all wouldn't be able to go shopping. They fought, they bled and a lot of them died. We don't much want to remember that."
"Easy, big fella, I'm on your side."
I really was on his side, but the idea of John Hammer getting riled up with me being the only person around wasn't exactly making me all warm and fuzzy.
"I know, I know," he said, leaning back a bit. I hoped he didn't notice my visible exhale.
"The election is what really got me started, what with hardly anybody showing up."
"Actually John, we had about a 30-35 percent turnout," I said, not even thinking that I was taking a step toward disagreeing with the big guy.
"And that means about seven out of every 10 people didn't vote," he answered (thankfully) without raising his voice.
"I even heard where some nut was saying that we don't need our political parties. I'll tell you this, Timmons. The other party might tick me off sometimes, but those parties and their predecessors helped make this country what it is. Folks seem to have forgotten that because of those parties we could have what they called civil discourse. Those parties gave us the ability to argue about important things between neighbors without it turning into a brawl. Used to be a time in this country when folks understood what it was like to respect other opinions. Now, if I don't agree with you, you don't just tell me I'm wrong, you tell me I'm stupid, pig-headed and ignorant."
"Well John, I wouldn't tell you that."
DIdn't phase him.
"Them folks are killing this country," he said. "Fat, dumb and government-subsidized is no way to go through life and that's all those types are. And I'll tell you this, Timmons," he continued as he stood up. "I like your newspaper making endorsements. Couldn't say I agreed with all of 'em, but it gave folks something to think about, something to talk about. I kind of like that out of a newspaper. But you've got to do something to get folks to show up and do their duty and vote."
"Me?" I asked. "John, what can one newspaper do to fix something like this? It's a pretty big problem."
"What did the troops do when they landed on the wrong beach? Things went wrong all the time for the Army, Navy, Marines. I'll tell you what they did. Improvise, adapt and overcome. The Paper has the voice," he said as he walked out the door. "Figure it out."
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