Old Soldiers Never Die

This gentleman’s name is Richard Eaton. Mr. Eaton was a member of an American Legion honor guard that made a brief appearance before the start of a recent American Legion sponsored baseball game in my community. Mr. Eaton and 4 other gentlemen of similar vintage, put on their Legion caps and hauled out their flags and rifles to honor the passing of another Legion member—a Mr. John Smith. (Yes—that really was his name.) The paper I work for—The Fluvanna Review—sent me to cover the ceremony.

Once the ceremony—Pledge of Allegiance etc.—was over and the game under way, Mr. Smith—I was told by another member of the guard—was a Legion member who died…

“…last fall I guess it was,” my informant reported, “—hey Larry—was it last fall John died?” Yeah, fall—I think,” he tells me as the flags and rifles are being put away in the trunk of a car parked in back of the dugout.

The pinging crack of a ball being hit by an aluminum bat echoes off the back wall of the high school gym building. The runner is thrown out at first—I think.

John Smith was a charter member of American Legion Post number 2003—which was founded 6 years ago. John was a Navy veteran, played the trumpet and loved American Legion Baseball. John worked very hard to make American Legion Baseball a success in this community.

Another crack—another runner thrown out at first—I think.

My dad belonged to the American Legion—in the town where I grew up many hundreds of miles away—over half a century ago. He played trombone. I remember him in his band uniform—I don’t ever remember him wearing a cap like the one in the picture of Mr. Eaton.

My dad—like John Smith—is dead now. My dad—unlike Mr. Smith—had no interest in baseball—American Legion baseball or any other kind.

When my dad died, there was no honor guard. That was because he had ended his membership in the American Legion several decades before. About the same time he gave up the trombone—I think. My brother has the trombone. I think.

When my dad died all he got was a poorly attended viewing in a rented casket in a North Carolina  funeral home that later went out of business—I think. The name of the funeral home escapes me.

Then he was cremated. That was 23 years ago—I think.

I don’t know how Mr. Smith’s funeral or viewing went—I didn’t think to ask—none of my business really. I was told he was a very nice, well-liked man.

Another crack of an aluminum bat—the crowd cheers. The cheering continues then becomes sharply louder.

A home run—I guess.

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2 Responses to “Old Soldiers Never Die”

  1. Nelson Cheang Says:

    It make me think of my father, he also was a solider…

  2. orion Says:

    Hi Nelson–once again–thank you for visiting the site and thank you very much for your comment. I know you’ve had problems in your life–I hope everything is going better for you now.

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