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  • A few days ago my husband was on a round pavilion. We were visiting pleasant Florida, a public park, where a person can see languid turtles floating in a stagnant lake, everything presenting with obvious, unnecessary, preceding adjectives. I watched him from the playground of blue plastic twirling slides where our young daughter made quick friends of squealing girls, chased by big brothers and I sat on a fake wood bench that would not decay in harsh weather.

    My husband’s father, though, was a man of few descriptors. He seldom talked about the war. But he did say that because he was short, when the boats landed in Normandy, he had the bad problem that he could easily drown before actually hitting the shore. That was the worst part, he said. And the gun he had to keep over his head in choppy water was very heavy.

    The knowledge that he had been scheduled for discharge on December 9th, before Pearl Harbor, caused him no apparent regret. (He could reflect and kept best friends with one of his army buddies until he died.)

    Fifty some years later my husband stood on the pavilion, talked to a hunched man and later told me the man had a dark-blue-with-yellow veteran’s hat, indicating WWII. John said hello, then somehow referenced the man’s baseball hat and said, “My father spent eight days on Omaha beach.”

    The man kept looking out over the green lake. Maybe someone passed on the gentle bike path behind him. A mixed race couple sat on the top of a sticky picnic table, occasionally kissing. “Well. That must have been nice for him,” said the old man.
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