The chairs that ringed the big room were half filled with old men.
Some had canes, some had roller-walkers, a couple were in wheelchairs.
A couple of them carried an oxygen bottle with clear plastic tubes running from the bottle to around their head and under their nose.
Most of them just walked with a limp.
A few were like me, walking normally (if I do anything normally).
Many of them had the deep, rasping cough of a life-long smoker.
As I sat and observed those around me, I thought, these guys took the bullets and the shrapnel for me.
These are the ones who came back.
Some paid in the jungle or the desert.
Others, like these, came back, but they still paid.
On the installment plan.
Some of them would say that the ones who came back in a box are the ones who got off easy.
And I would agree with them.
I have skated through life because of the lifetime of discomfort and pain they paid for me.
I owe them.
I owe each one of them.
There is no way that I can repay or compensate them for the life of suffering (some of them more than others) they have endured so that I could raise my children free from fear and harm, go where I want, when I want, say what I want.
All of this is written on those pieces of paper we call our Constitution.
But the words on the paper aren't worth anything unless some of us defend them against those who want things another way.
I went to the doctor today for my annual checkup.
Because of my short service in the US Army, I am entitled to free medical care from the US Veterans Administration. (thanks to all of you who pay your taxes.)
He said my prostate was down from 2X to 1X. (don't ask me how the doctor was able to make this determination.....)
This is good news.
We are not sure why the change has taken place.
I am taking Saw Palmetto pills but they are not supposed to affect organ size.
But something did.
Not complaining, just sayin.
My blood pressure was good.
They took some of my blood to do a workup including HIV (just to settle the possible question).
Just like last year (except for the HIV test).
I am disgustingly healthy.
Even though I grunt and moan about my little aches and pains, in reality, they are so minor that I do not need to take any chemical substances to diminish their intensity.
The day may (will!) come when this will no longer be true, but for now it is so.
I am blessed.
I can still run three-plus miles each week, and walk three miles twice a week.
Many of those men in the big room can barely walk to their cars.
And while I am most grateful to Yahweh for his illogical kindness and love to me, I also feel a strong sense of gratitude to the old men sitting around the big room today.