…and thanks to the more than 125 people who showed up last night to honor Buck Compton (see related blog) and enjoy his stories. There were some great laughs, and a standing ovation full of affection and respect. Also, more men than we’ve ever had at a program!
I particularly appreciated several young men in the audience who were full of great questions for Buck, like “What kind of gun did you have?” “What battle do you remember best, and why?” and “Who are your heroes?” For his part, Buck’s answers are nearly always positive and definitely always modest. Any variation of “How did you survive the hardship and trauma of war?” is always answered with a shrug (“You just did what you had to do”) and praise of others (“I was just lucky to be with men of that stature.”) “What was it like being an Los Angeles policeman? “Best job I ever had.” “What’s it like to be a judge?” “Best job I ever had!” Followed by a funny story, usually at his own expense.
I realized last night why I felt it so important to invite Buck to be with us. It’s important to honor him for a lifetime of service, absolutely. But also, I think there is something about being in the presence of an eyewitness to and participant in historical events: it gives us a sense of something bigger than ourselves. In this case, too, it puts us in touch with a time when collectively, we pulled together and prevailed.
Thank you, Buck, and all the veterans you represent.