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  • I noticed him from a block away, standing on a corner during the commute rush, cradling a bouquet of flags in his hands. His Army dress cap was covered in medals for unknown deeds and courage. A plastic tube snaked from his face to a cart on the sidewalk, carrying oxygen to his lungs. It couldn't have been easy for him to stand there, upright and at attention, but he did.

    By the time I reached him I had a dollar in my hand. I felt shy as I put the money into his donation can and read his sign: "Please don't forget disabled veterans." He held out a flag. The way he sought my eyes for contact made me think that of all the people passing him by on their way to the train, the bus, the office, not a single one had looked at him all day. I held his gaze and murmured thank you too softly to hear over the throng, but I think he understood.

    I took my flag and walked away, doing my best to remember.
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