Two days ago I was enjoying Great Falls National Park in Maryland when these two gentlemen came into view.
The first thing I heard, said in a somewhat grouchy voice, before I gave them my full attention, was “Well, we’re all going to die sooner or later.”
But the line that really got my attention as I turned the corner and saw a face that contained twinkling eyes as they met mine, was “He’s going to die a whole lot sooner than he thinks he’s going to….” said in a way that only a brother could say it, with just the right amount of love and exasperation.
I had to stop and talk to them. There was a story to be heard here, and a connection to be made.
What followed with these brothers, with faces that share features, was some good natured ribbing about my husband serving in the Air Force versus their military service in the Navy, a bit of information about their time in Vietnam, and a mutual thanking for their service and for ours.
I tried to get them to put their heads closer together but they were having none of that.
Brotherly love only goes so far.
If I had met them in a different place, with time to sit and talk, instead of in a chance encounter on a bridge, I may have learned more about their military service but perhaps not. They served at a time when our service members weren’t thanked for sacrifices they made, when they stuffed their uniforms in garbage cans as soon as they came home to avoid being derided, during a war that was vehemently protested, so perhaps they are still guarded.
I spent some time in Washington DC the day after I met these brothers, making a visit to one of my favorite memorials, The Korean War Veterans Memorial. I realize it wasn’t their war, but I couldn’t help but think of them when I encountered the faces of the men represented at this memorial. At this site, the artist, Frank Gaylord, depicts a squad of soldiers on patrol and evokes the experience of American ground troops in Korea. In my mind, I can’t help but link these statues with the men that I met yesterday, at another time and another phase of their lives.
Their faces, these faces…..all hold untold stories.
It’s a good thing when someone’s story, even a small part of one, is shared. Stopping and appreciating a face can start that process.
Who might you meet today? Expand your world by asking them to share their story.