Rev. Austin Miles, a chaplain in Northern California is a writer and historian. He is the author of Santa's Surprising Origins, a story that received worldwide circulation and resulted in him being cast in the 2004 Hallmark Christmas Movie titled, Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus. He played the mall Santa who magically received the gift of sign language.

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Society • More Than Picnics, Barbeques and Beer

We are at liberty to enjoy such occasions, thanks to those service men and women who gave their all, so that we could and can. It is not too much to ask that Memorial Day be spent primarily to honor them.

The other day I went to the VA Medical Center in The East Bay where I would take a shuttle bus to Mare Island. Signs on those shuttles say, “All gave some—Some gave all.”

Waiting for the passengers and the driver, I noticed a white van pull up slowly to the front entrance of the care center. I knew instantly that it was the coroner’s van,  to pick up a veteran who had died.

When he was brought out on the gurney there was no member of his family or any friends to be with him. Perhaps he was the only one left in his family, or maybe he had been set aside and forgotten. He died alone. He was one of the 2,000 WW II veterans who died on this day.  I saw them put him in the van, close the back door and slowly drive away.

As my shuttle pulled out on its way to Mare Island, I looked out at the rolling hills we went through and tears began rolling down my face as I thought,  ‘An old soldier died today. And he died alone.  Whoever he was, he had put his own life, future and goals aside so that we could fulfill ours.’

Let’s honor veterans on this Memorial Day by going to tributes and ceremonies with our focus being on the real heroes of the day. those who lay down their lives for us so that we can live in freedom. And let the World War 2 Veterans who are left, know how grateful we are to them while they are still here. Please.

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