I thrilled to say that I have just received permission from the VA to re-post my report about Don, the 95 year old WWII veteran who will be celebrating his 96th birthday on Armistice Day, November, 11, at the VA Hospital. If you would like to send this wonderful and kind man a birthday card, please send me a private message and I will reply with his address. Let’s make this birthday extra extra beautiful for him.
Report from a Veteran’s Affairs Hospital in California: He likes green and yellow and country western music. He grew up in Utah and Nevada and loved to chase wild horses when he was a kid. He was drafted into the 27th infantry division in 1942. He was 23 years old. He fought at Okinawa, the bloodiest battle of the Pacific theater, and survived. He came home to Utah and followed in the footsteps of his grandfather and his father to become a commercial beekeeper. He worked in the bee-yard his whole life. He is nearly blind. He held my hand tightly. When I asked him if we could have a hug, he smiled widely and his eyes lit up. This is Don and when he turns 96 on November 11th, he said that no one will be coming to see him. And on his birthday, he may not remember that his wife came to see him, because he often forgets people and things.
The staff at the VA tell me that forgetfulness is much more common in vets than other people because of the physical and emotional trauma they experienced in combat.
So, I sat with him a bit longer. I found out he loves watermelon, corn on the cob, biscuits, and gravy. I sang to him to him a capella -- The Tennessee Waltz and Gold Watch and Chain -- and he never let go of my hand. I am honored that we got to play country music for Don today, and Mr. J who did four tours in Vietnam and showed me how to two step, and Mr. M who was a paratrooper in Korea and requested rock-n-roll -- Billy was happy to oblige with a rendition of Nadine.
We had a beautiful afternoon with a group of music-loving veterans because of Bread & Roses and Marian Hubler. Thank you, Marian, for this opportunity, and thank you Don, for keeping me company today.