(Cliff Schmidt is a World War II veteran and a former business executive. He resides in Henniker. His essay seems appropriate for this Memorial Day weekend--Editor.)
I have a cap that was given to me by Bessie, the daughter of Billy Georgopoulos, owner of Veano's Restaurant in Pembroke. The cap reads in bright yellow, “World War II Veterans.''
This cap has attracted a surprising number of people who approach with extended right hands and most of the time saying, “Thank you for your serivce.''
It has done something for me I cannot otherwise remember in my 90 years. Humility.
I have been humbled. Complete strangers smile, some leaving shopping carts or in one case a gentleman leaving his opened-door auto, to thank me.
While shopping in Wal-Mart, a young splendidly outfitted Marine stood in my way at rigid attention and saluted. Another time, a Korean War veteran rose from his seat at VEano's and asked me to join him at lunch.
Two women have been both pleasant and kind enough to extend their thank-yous, most simply smiling as they go by. One began speaking at a Market Basket line, most of the time looking up at my cap. She was not able to thank me nor my cap for anything.
I have thought of giving up the cap and returning to my Patriots' cap. It's just a bit unsettling. Except for one thing.
When I was 8 or 9 years old, I witnessed a parade passing by our home in Clifton, New Jersey.
I'm not certain, but I believe it was on Nov. 11, at that time a World War I celebration of sorts.
About halfway through the bands and parading firemen and policemen came a big, four-door convertible with two Civil War veterans, one in blue, the other in gray.
Their uniforms looked brand-new but their faces looked 100 years old.
In any case, I remember waving and successfully gaining their attention.
The veteran in gray just looked my way, while the one in blue managed to wiggle his fingers, his one arm halfway in the air.
I don't think I will ever get to sit in the back seat of a four-door convertible with a German WW II veteran, especially at a parade in Clifton, N.J., wearing my cap.