By HDN staff
Laughters the only sound the gently aging man can hear as he bounces the young child on his knee.
He ignores the slight pain gradually working its way up his thigh because for a brief moment in time only the smiles and laughter of the innocent youth seems important.
As the pain slowly begins to overcome the pleasantries of the moment, his memory flows back to a time when the laughter of children was the furthermost thing from his mind. A day when the heat was overbearing and the rain never seemed to stop falling. It was a day when a pair of dry socks, a hot, meal, and a tall cold beer were the only joys he could imagine. It was a day when his rifle was his only true friend and the blisters on his feet were the only thing that detracted from the state of constant fear that hung around his shoulders like a woolen scarf during a Montana winter.
Thats the day the pain started a day that seemed all to much like any other, wet, long and hot. It was a day that would probably have been like any other had it not been for the explosion that sent shrapnel tearing through the flesh on the left side of his body. A day when he saw two of his buddies lying dead while his own life-giving blood flowed from the open wounds on his body.
But that was 30 years ago and half a world away, the man thought to himself as he shifted the child to his other knee. I didnt do anything that millions of others didnt do. I did what was expected of me what I was trained to do.
In the back of his mind the gray-haired man thought briefly about how stupid hed been to fight in a war nobody cared about and in the end couldnt have been won. He thought about the pain hed carried in his leg for more than 30 years and the buddies he lost on that fateful day.
How stupid I was to ever sign up, he thought as the pain shot through him again. Why in the world would any sane man join the military and fight a war.
Once again the sound of laughter broke his concentration as he looked on the face of the smiling child.
The clouds of doubt disappeared and the brief glint of anger left as he recognized the reason was right before his eyes.
It was for them, he thought. Thats why sane men fight. So children can be free so they can smile, laugh, and wonder at the worlds blessings. We fight for those who cant. We fight to secure the blessings of freedom and liberty for future generations.
The pain in his leg eased a bit as realized what a fair price it was to secure the blessings of freedom for them.
On this Veterans Day, Thursday, Nov. 11, The management and staff of the Havre Daily News asks that we all remember our veterans and the sacrifice they made and the price they paid to secure freedom for us.