The Countless Minor Scenes
by Kevin Gardner

That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain
-A. Lincoln

So the story is one of two men, serving together
   in World War Two, which is not say that these men
   were great buddies during their time of service,
but rather to suggest that they were serving
   in the same part of England at the same time,
   performing similar duties. Although neither can say for sure,
It is not unreasonable
   to believe that they met on the boat, on the way
home from that epic struggle, as it is true of the One
   That I Am Most Familiar With, that he is a gregarious type
   that would have actively sought out those weary
   travelers that were conquering ship bound time
   with playing cards and bottles of beer.

   A friendship of common experience would have been embraced
   And in that spirit it would have become knowledge
that home for each was Western New York.
   As the trip ended they might have said 'let's keep in touch,'
   and went their separate ways. On July 4th 1945 these men
would have met again as the One That I Am Most Familiar With
was planning to marry the Nurse Of His Dreams and in need of groomsmen.
   The Other would have traveled from the Chautauqua hills
   to help his ship mate friend.

Fast forward to 2006, to, of all places a Denny's. Unsuspecting, resting
on the side of route 60. On the outskirts of the Other's
hometown and these two men once again were met. Six decades
   had passed and Both had been leathered by the joys
   and sorrows of a lifetime. Talking as they did, enshrouded
   by the fog of memories-most-forgot, or passed over for better.

All-encompassed in a different lifetime. We were but stick-figure
diner seat witnesses to experience shared
only by The One That I Was Most Familiar With, and the Other.
Through their eyes we that shared the pleasure, and seated
   at this table were treated to both points of view,
and shown gun turrets, runways and barracks,
   an airplane crash, a long cruise back to the states.
Through their eyes we were invited back
to a warm summer day in Somerset.

Fast forward yet again to today, and I, a young
man, standing in front of you. There are no such memories
   buried deep in my forgotten lifetimes, and the experiences foretold
   can only be known from the second hand. But the One
   That I Am Most Familiar With sits today in his usual Sunday
   morning seat.

I thank God everyday for this cross-Atlantic encounter and for Denny's.
   Filled with the knowledge that this encounter
is not the exception to the rule,
but rather could be seen as the rule,
and can be told by similar men, from the dawning of time,
to those seated before me this morning, I thank God for them also.
   So here it is, on this day when it is the entire nations
privilege to offer prayer-
for those who will never leave the fight for liberty,
   or the farms of Pennsylvania, for those who will never leave
mud filled European trenches, or the big beach, for those who will never
   leave the humidity of Asian jungles or the arid desert sands, for those
who did not make it to that boat,
I can stand here unashamedly grateful.

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