...And I thought I was old!
This is not a picture that I took, but I'll tell you why. I saw a hat just like this in the pew in front of me just yesterday. That's right, I said "pew." I was participating in the holy sacrifice of the Mass yesterday morning and I had a hard time concentrating on the rite. I couldn't stop wondering if the hat was a real symbol of the life history of the man kneeling off to my left, or if it was just another "souvenir." After Mass, I approached the senior gentleman, obvious owner of the hat and I asked him if what it said was true in his case. He said that it is. As a reflex action he asked, "Do you want it"? I was shocked, and moved. I said in a shaking voice, "No thanks, I don't deserve it." He spent 27.5 years in the service of the United States of America. I remember only the round number, but his answer to me was precise to the hour of the time he had spent in the service. World War II, Navy; Korea, Air Force; Viet Nam, Air Force, two tours. His hat had a Roman numeral II after the word Viet Nam. His cap, unlike the one pictured is pure white...and clean. No problem wearing that to church.
He told me that he thanks God every day for the blessings that he has had over the many years of life given to him by God. He participates in the Mass every chance that he gets,which is almost daily. He is tall, big, stands straight up and has a clear, unwavering voice. Our meeting was short, but moving. I told him that I never expected to see such a rarity walking around strongly and healthily. I told him that now that I "know" him that he can count on my prayers.
I made the mistake of not asking his name and not inquiring whether or not he lives in Moreno Valley. All I know is that I enjoyed praying next to a creature who doesn't expect anyone to cry at his funeral...just stand there in awe at what God has accomplished through him and continues to show him off before His altar.
What a blessing this was!