Jim Butler column

He mostly sits.

Age has taken his energy, his stamina, his enthusiasm, and his eyes.

Eyes once keen enough to fly a propeller-driven fighter over the South Pacific, chasing, or being chased, can now barely see images on the largest-screen television available.

Eyes once keen enough to distinguish a carrier deck at night in a choppy sea -- sort of like looking for postage stamp -- now require immense magnification to read the newspaper.

Eyes once keen enough to watch squadron mates ditch in the Pacific and pop to the surface, looking like toys in their Mae Wests, now rely more on sound to recognize visitors.

His mind’s eye can still see clearly what’s behind him -- the islands, the jungle, the enemy of World War II.

And he sees clearly ahead of him, realizing his time is increasingly limited.

His class of veterans is diminishing rapidly. Their war ended more than 60 years ago. Even the youngest of them is well into his or her 70’s.

They are part of a much-larger class -- that legion of men and women who have served their country by wearing its military uniforms.

Some signed up in peacetime, and war caught up with them.

Others enlisted during war and lived to see peace.

Still others trained to fight but didn’t have to.

Whatever their circumstance, they did what was, and still is, necessary to keep this nation strong and free.

From the Somme to Saigon, Iwo Jima to Inchon, Khe Sahn to Kabul, Bastonge to Baghad, our fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and grandchildren have answered war’s clarion.

And they have guarded the peacetime frontier in places both familiar and remote, on land, in the air, on and under the sea.

Some have elected to make a career of military service; far more have done their hitch and moved on.

Each and everyone has contributed to the well being of the rest of us.

Take the opportunity to tell at least one of our veterans thank-you on Tuesday when we honor them all with the official national recognition, and with a local ceremony at 11 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial on Park Avenue.

I’ll start it in my house, and you continue it in yours: James, Michele, Jerry Lee, Bit, Charles, Pete, Stacy, Nichole, Trey, thanks.

Acadia Parish Today

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