Friday, November 11, 2011

Salute to Veterans

Marines on Patrol in Viet Nam

Several years ago in Terre Haute, IN, during the course of a business lunch with 3 or 4 others, one of them, Dave, silently left the table.  Across the room there was a sudden commotion of sorts, and there we saw Dave standing at a booth, motioning to a fellow who had kind of a blank look on his face, to get up, and the man scrambled to do so.

Dave slipped behind him, performed the Heimlich, and a piece of meat popped out of the man’s mouth.  Without saying a word, and before the man could thank him,  Dave returned to our table to finish our lunch and conversation with little or no reference to what had just happened.

It should have been no surprise that he would do that.  A former owner of a steak house, he likely had encountered the situation on more than this occasion, and he sought no accolades for essentially saving a person’s life.  After all, he had done it before.

Later, while Dave was doing some paperwork in his office, I was studying a photo on the wall, of a patrol in Viet Nam, 6 or 8 soldiers in chest-deep water, rifles held over their heads to keep them dry.  “I am the second guy in the line,” he said from his desk.  “The two right behind me never came home.”

His comment was sobering, perhaps moreso today.  Maybe he didn’t stand directly in the line of fire protecting us, but he was there to serve, so in truth he really had “done it before” the incident at lunch, putting his own life at risk in the process.

Heroes seem to serve quietly, and today being Veterans Day we pause to thank the Dave’s of our world, who leave to serve, and continue to serve when they return.  From the class of ‘62, in particular, we pay our gratitude to Stanton Arendts, Arlyn Morse, Ron Van Steenburg, David Skellenger, Robert Smith, Mike Lien, and any others who served.

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