Veterans Fishing Day 2015

Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD. Leviticus 19.32 NIV


     I’ve enjoyed some fulfilling perks working with fish and wildlife.

     One of my favorite days of the year happens when folks from the VA hospital come to our small community to fish for trout. I don’t remember who first thought of this idea. I wish I could claim it as mine, but it wasn’t. Regardless – somebody somewhere should reach around and pat himself on the back, because he (or she) came up with a good thing.

     Over the years, I’ve made friends with more than a few war veterans whilst out on the pond. Most of the Vets are elderly, but not all. Some are younger than me, but just ended up in a bad way before they got to come home. I’ve visited with many WWII Vets, but lately, there haven’t been any of those folks coming out to fish. I wonder if I’ll ever see another on the pond.

     I’ve heard tales of battles and triumphs and disappointments and loss. I always make it a point to thank each one for his service to our country. I don’t recall any ever bragging about what they did. Most of them will say they didn’t do much at all. Then they’ll sometimes nod in the direction of someone else and whisper to me that he or she is the real hero out there today.

     The fellow pictured with me at the top of this post is Merlin. He spent twenty years and twenty-two days in the military. He’s been around the world a few times in his service for our country. His girlfriend flew to Turkey to marry him! He joined the service right after WWII, and he’s now 86. Merlin told me that from what all he’s seen in his world travels, God sure has blessed us with a great country to live in, and he’s grateful.

     Merlin caught a lot of fish this good day. I cast the rod for him for about three hours and he thanked me almost every time I’d hand it back to him. I’m used to a fly-rod, so I wasn’t the most accurate at casting a spinning rod. Once in a while Merlin would gently direct me to cast the silly thing a bit more toward one side or the other. No matter where it landed, he’d often compliment me on a good cast.

     After everyone loaded the bus for the trip home, I climbed up the front steps and addressed the group as I like to do each year before they leave. I told them we were sure glad they were able to make it out to the pond, and to enjoy their fish dinner. Then I thanked them all for their service to our country. One man waved his hand to brush off the gratitude.

     “Awhh, we just went through the wrong door and ended up in a strange place, that’s all.”

     I smiled back. “Well, I think I know a little better than that. Thanks again, and God bless each of you.”

     “God bless you, too,” came the group response.

     Not to worry.  He already did.

     Have a great day.


  1. Bob S

    Had the pleasure to participate in a few of these activities alongside Thomas and Jenny.  A  great event for both the Vets and their hosts. Although the Vets liked the fishing, meeting new friends and talking about their lives appeared to be what they enjoyed the most. An uplifting day for all, and when the Vets boarded their Vans to return to their home, I’m confident they were reassured that their Service was greatly appreciated and that they were not forgotten.

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