Do Your Job, Come Home Safe

“Music?  Where we going to music, daddy?”  

He constantly worked to perfect how early to tell her that they would be doing something a little special.  If he shared the news too early, there would eventually be tears when he confessed, “No, not yet.  We’re not going for three more hours.”  If not early at all, he felt like he was robbing her of anticipation’s joy.

One of the churches downtown was putting on a musical tribute to veterans.  He liked hearing the songs, and not usually being one to indulge in veteran events, he felt that, of all days, Veterans Day was an appropriate day to reminisce.

Taking her already extended hand in his, they moved from their car towards the small bottleneck of people.

Reality hit and hit hard.  The pair of them, his daughter and him, were among the youngest attendees–by decades.  Guiding her to the general area he wanted to sit, he let her choose the exact pew.  Taking their seats, he didn’t want to look around.  In front, there was not a single younger person.  The enormous sanctuary was far from full.  The choir was smaller than expected.  The brass section, even smaller.  And he couldn’t help but notice the age of the participants.  Maybe five out of the 50-ish musicians were under the age of 40.

He knew that the greatest generation was basically gone.  As a veteran of the Iraq war, he knew that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans couldn’t compete with Vietnam veterans regarding duration and intensity.  This knowledge carried a bit of shame.  He really wanted his efforts to have been necessary and valuable.  All signs pointed to the opposite.

Regardless, he also knew something more.  He knew what every veteran knows–that he was lucky.  And tied inexorably to this knowledge was the fact that some…were unlucky.  Moreover, there was no escaping the inner turmoil captured by the persistent yet unanswerable question.  “Why?”


Support veterans.  They need it.



  1. Ron

    Pete – Thanks for your good work and for standing tall through thick and thin.
    Below is an item out of my TM archives for at least one yuk for you today.

    Sunday, Feb. 27th, 2005
    The Adventures of Angry Bob
    By Stephan Pastis (Pearls before Swine)

    Angry Bob was angry.

    “My problems stem from lonelines,” thought Bob. “I will buy a women’s magazine to learn what women like.”

    Bob went to the grocery store and purchased a copy of ‘Cosmopolitan’ magazine. He took it home and sat in his backyard and read his magazine.

    And heard a crash.

    A Brazilian swimsuit model had fallen through his hedges.

    “Excuse me,” she said. “I am Lupe, and I have wandered away from a bikini contest and now I am lost. I have skinned my knee falling through your hedge and would like to soak it in your tub, but I am afraid of water and will need you to hold me.”

    Bob stared in astonishment. Thirty-five years of uter lineliness were about to end. And so Bob stood up….and the women’s magazine fell to the ground.

    “ ‘Cosmo’ ?” Lupe asked. “You read ‘Cosmo’?

    Flummoxed, Bob panicked.

    “She thinks I’m a pansy,” screamed his brain. “Eat the evidence,” screamed his brain.

    And so, Bob at the pages. And choked. And died.

    Looking at dead Bob, Lupe sighed. “Oh if my great aunt, the woman who founded ‘Cosmo’ could have seen that her magazine had finally made the demographic crossover to male readers, she would have been so pleased. And her joy would have been my joy. And I would have shared my joy, in the only loving, sensual way I know how, with this poor man. But now he is dead.”

    And the moral: “Always chew your food carefully.”


  2. Joan Janis

    On Sunday morning I turned on tv to occupy me while I ate breakfast. There was a veteran’s band featured on a news show. One of the lead singers, no legs and missing a forearm, said how healing the music is, and how he finally, finally understands the “broken hallelujah” and has never felt so whole. I cannot put in words how this has changed me, but it has.


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