Old Veteran

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic
The is a short story i wrote for school

Submitted: October 16, 2011

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Submitted: October 16, 2011



You can see him today sitting on the sidewalks of Tustin California at dusk when they late summer sun is setting,  just listening to the sounds of the street and occasionally getting money from people passing by. His face shows permanent laugh lines and a scruffy beard. He uses a cane which is more of a crutch because of his battle scar from the Korean War (a lost leg.) The always smiling veteran is known by some as old Mike. Everyone knows him down at the dingy little diner where he gets a free meal from time to time as the old man who tells war stories and how it use to be as a teen in World War Two. Now he isn’t a bum who has no money but he isn’t rich either. His two grown daughters keep an eye on him but he likes the way he lives and really couldn’t be happy any other way.

If you asked him why he lives the way he does he would tell you the story of a young man in a bloody war that he really didn’t want to fight in. This young man had a terrible accident which made him think deep for maybe the first time in his life about why he was here and what did it matter if he died in this death pit. What did he have to look forward to when and if he ever got back to the states? Nothing! Nothing….. he thought for days.

He had gone into deep depression that he couldn’t get out of until a dark haired guy from his unit who he had never talked to walked quickly in the door of the medical tent in a beeline to the man of this story, and said “you’re not doing anything!” “Well duh I’m on my death bed,” thought the young soldier. The guy continued, “Your letting this situation eat you up soldier, you have your whole life ahead of you why quit now?” The young soldier yelled “What the heck is your name and why are you telling me this? I don’t see you without a leg stuck in the middle of some country I had never heard of until six months ago!”  “ Your right” said the dark haired soldier. “What?” said the young man. “Your right I didn’t lose my leg in this war, and I can’t tell you I know what that feels like because I don’t. But I do know that God would not put you on this earth, let this happen to you and then have nothing else for you” said the dark haired soldier in a softer, quieter tone. At this point the injured soldier’s blood was boiling, who was this guy to come and tell him what God’s plan was for him? Heck he didn’t even believe in God. “Can I tell you a story?” asked the dark haired soldier. “Sure why not” answered the injured soldier grudgingly but calmed down by other soldier’s tone of voice. “Well this is kinda personal and I would appreciate it if you didn’t tell anyone else in the unit but I just felt that I needed to come tell you this and talk to you. After I was born I was immediately an orphan, no Dad, and Mom ran off. At the orphanage life awful and I was getting into trouble left and right. I was on my last strike almost to jail until this old guy from down the street befriended me and shared the idea that I had my whole life ahead of me and that I needed to get out there and live because the world keeps turning we either get out there and catch a ride or get run over by it. So I swore that I would help out any other guy who wasn’t sticking his thumb out for a ride.” The injured solder was shocked he really hadn’t expected to hear this at all. “Wow umm thanks” he said unable to think. “No problem, see you later” the dark haired solider.

That story is of course about the old veteran sitting on the sidewalk in California but he would never admit it. The other soldier in the story, the dark haired one, well he died five days later. The injured young man, now a veteran was forever changed by him and lives out his life peaceful, happy, and encouraging lost young men who are just like he was during the Korean War.


© Copyright 2019 Jacqueline Witherspoon. All rights reserved.

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