I had a good birthday, having received money, flowers, cards, phone calls, dinner out, and a banana pudding. Some people who I would have liked to have heard from didn’t call, but I am loathe to complain since I forget everyone’s birthday but mine and Peggy’s, and I even forgot mine yesterday until she mentioned it.
Birthdays are surely a singular event in that they are so eagerly awaited in childhood and so passionately dreaded after age 29. The only good I can see in being 57 is that there will never be a war so terrible that anyone will think to draft me. This might seem a small recompense, but I well remember the years I spent avoiding Vietnam.
A lodge brother told me that he joined the Navy in World War II because the movie All Quiet on the Western Front left him with a horror of bayonets. Another showed me a magazine photo of himself wading ashore at Normandy. His best friend had just drowned after being pulled under the waves by his equipment.
I thank veterans for their service, but I never ask for details. The first time I thanked an entire group was at my Masonic Lodge; the occasion being the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II. The room became so quiet that I feared I had caused offense. After what seemed like a long time, someone said that, in all the years since the war, no one had ever thanked him for what he had done.