THE OLD MAN
As I came out of the supermarket that sunny day, pushing my cart of groceries towards my
car, I saw an old man with the hood of his car up and a lady sitting inside the car, with
the door open.
The old man was looking at t he engine. I put my groceries away in my car, and continued
to watch the old gentleman from about twenty five feet away.
I saw a young man in his early twenties with a grocery bag in his arm walking towards the
old man. The old gentleman saw him coming too, and took a few steps towards him.
I saw the old gentleman point to his open hood and say something. The young man put his
grocery bag into what looked like a brand new Cadillac Escalade. He then turned back to
the old man. I heard him yell at the old gentleman saying: "You shouldn't even be
allowed to drive a car at your age." And then with a wave of his hand, he got in his
car and peeled rubber out of the parking lot.
I saw the old gentleman pull out his handkerchief, and mop his brow as he went back to
his car and again looked at the engine.
He then went to his wife and spoke with her; he appeared to tell her it would be okay. I
had seen enough, and I approached the old man. He saw me coming and stood straight, and
as I got near him I said, "Looks like you're having a problem."
He smiled sheepishly, and quietly nodded his head. I looked under the hood myself, and
knew that whatever the problem was, it was beyond me. Looking around, I saw a gas station
up the road, and I told the old man that I would be right back. I drove to the station
and went I inside. I saw three attendants working on cars. I approached one of them, and
related the problem the old man had with his car. I offered to pay them if they could
follow me back down and help him.
The old man had pushed the heavy car under the shade of a tree and appeared to be
comforting his wife. When he saw us he straightened up and thanked me for my help. As the
mechanics diagnosed the problem (overheated engine), I spoke with the old gentleman.
When I shook hands with him earlier, he had noticed my Marine Corps ring and had
commented about it, telling me that he had been a Marine, too. I nodded and asked the
usual question, "What outfit did you serve with?"
He said that he served with the First Marine Division at Guadalcanal Pelieliu, and
He had hit three of the worst ones, and retired from the Corps after the war was over. As
we talked we heard the car engine come on and saw the mechanics lower the hood. They came
over to us as the old man reached for his wallet, but was stopped by me. I told him I
would just put the bill on my AAA card.
He still reached for the wallet and handed me a card that I assumed had his name and
address on it, and I stuck it in my pocket. We all shook hands all around again, and I
said my goodbyes to his wife.
I then told the two mechanics that I would follow them back up to the station. Once at
the station, I told them that they had interrupted their own jobs to come along with me
and help the old man. I said I wanted to pay for the help, but they refused to charge me.
One of them pulled out a card from his pocket, looking exactly like the card the old man
had given to me. Both of the men told me then that they were Marine Corps Reserves. Once
again we shook hands all around and as I was leaving, one of them told me I should look
at the card the old man had given to me. I said I would and drove off.
For some reason I had gone about two blocks, when I pulled over and took the card out of
my pocket and looked at it for a long, long time. The name of the old gentleman was on
the card in golden leaf and under his name was written: Congressional Medal of Honor
Society. I sat there motionless, looking at the card and reading it over and over. I
looked up from the card and smiled to no one but myself and marveled that on this day,
four Marines had all come together because one of us needed help. He was an old man all
right, but it felt good to have stood next to greatness and courage, and an honor to have
been in his presence.
Remember, as we approach another Memorial Day, old men like him gave you, and all of us,
FREEDOM for America. Thanks to those who served and still serve, and to all of those who
supported them, and who continue to support them.