Brothers pop up in unexpected places so I wasn’t surprised when I met one while on an “urban walk” through Little Rock’s MacArthur Park. He was sitting on a bench in front of the Museum of Arkansas Military History when I came by. When he saw the veteran’s cap I wore, he jumped to attention an announced our kinship. It was as simple as that.
First, he wanted to know what branch. “Navy,” I said. He was a former marine who “never lost a man under my care.” To emphasize the point, he took off his own hat to display a nearly shaved head and restated the claim. “Jarhead,” he said proudly.
Fearing I still might not be convinced, he proceeded to demonstrate how properly to perform a “pushup.” After two smart displays, the aging body began to give out on him, but he had made his point.
We visited for a moment, shared a hug and parted. He returned to his bench and I continued my walk. The heat was stifling but I think I had a bit more snap in my step. Still, I couldn’t help wondering why a healthy man, still in his working years, had nothing more to do on a summer day than watch visitors in a park. I hope it was by choice and not the results of society’s disregard for his sacrifices. I’ll never know.
I do know, though, that once a brother, always a brother.
The men who learn endurance, are they who call the whole world, brother.
– Charles Dickens