There’s a homeless man that walks around our town with his dog. It’s a service dog and he’s very old, and very ill. They are very old, and very ill. There is a plight on the app NextDoor, to get this dog help. They are raising money to get the dog into a vet. They are trying to track the man and the dog. Someone will post one day, “Saw man and dog at McDonalds on La-High.” The next day they will say, “Saw man and dog at Northlake Dunkin.” One day it changed from “Man and dog” to “Vet and dog.” Someone found out he was a Veteran. A woman offered up a shiny, new, red Radio Flyer that her kids refuse to use. Maybe he can cart the dog around when the pavement is too hot for his feet?
I come from a military family. I married into a military family. Generations and generations of men, and several women, who served in the Army, Navy, Kansas National Guard, and Army Reserve for years. Jackson’s Grandma and PawPaw are both retired military. He has several uncles, great uncles, cousins, and family friends who are military service members. When I was in third grade both my sisters and their children moved home to Leavenworth to live with my mom and me, in our tiny two-bedroom apartment, while both their husbands were sent to fight in The Gulf War. It’s just something that has always been part of my life. We’ve hung a proverbial Blue Star Banner for as long as I can remember.
The Blue Star Service Banner is an 8.5-x-14-inch white field with one or more blue stars sewn onto a red banner. The blue star represents one family member serving, and a banner can have up to five stars. If the individual is killed or dies, a smaller golden star is placed over it. Gold stars are placed above the blue stars or to the top right of the flag, in the event a flag represents multiple service members. Stars are important in the Armed Forces. They signify honor, valor, sacrifice. They are shiny. They are different colors. Stars, stripes, accolades. Those things are important to our United States Military. In more recent times a white star has appeared. A white star signifies a solider lost to suicide.
The Service Banner can be hung in a window of your home if you have an immediate family member actively serving in the Armed Forces, during any period of war or hostilities in which the United States is engaged. So, pretty much all the time. Maybe you’ve seen those flags in windows, but you didn’t know. Maybe you’ve seen men and dogs at McDonalds, but you didn’t know. These flags were first used in World War I, with standardization and codification by the Department of Defense Directive 1348.1, by the end of World War II. They were quick to implement flags. Quick to show honor.
Our nephew Danny turns 23-years-old in July. This week he is headed into lockdown at Fort Bragg so he can prepare for his second tour. He is headed to yet another country that needs the help of the United States Military. This week the women who are gathering money for the Vet and his dog are trying to track him down to get him that wagon. They found him a number to the VA. They think he can really get some help. This week those women think that a phone call to the VA will make all his problems go away. Make the dogs problems go away. This week the women who are gathering money think they can make their streets less unseemly. I hope they are right.
I’m thinking of them today. Of my family members who have sacrificed for the good of our country. My family members who will one day sacrifice. The man and dog, sitting outside the McDonalds on La-High. Drinking coffee. I’ve never met him. Never shaken his hand. Pet his dog. Watched him walk down Lavista with everything he owns on his back. But still, I’m thinking of him, I’m thinking of them. Remembering better times, and wishing them all well. While they serve, and after. Because most of the dangers don’t come until many moons after.
Be safe. Be well.