Street Stories

Weblog of Seattle minister to the homeless Rick Reynolds, Operation Nightwatch

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Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

Caring for human beings seems like the best use of my time, homeless or not.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Don's Goodbye

Don wasn't much for pomp.

If you saw him downtown, you might think "Unibomber." Gray hair and whiskers, hood pulled low. He kept to himself, pretty much.

Thanks to his few friends and Nightwatch, Don got off the street. For the last five years of his life, he had his own place in a unit underwritten by our donors. Before that, his bed was cardboard, for years.

At his burial there was a 21-gun salute, taps, a few words of condolence, poorly read. Then the flag was removed from his casket, smartly folded, and presented to the office worker Chris who was the closest to being real family. "On behalf of the President of the United States, the Department of the Air Force, and a grateful nation, we offer this flag for the faithful and dedicated service of your departed love one." Two tours in Vietnam, one in the Navy, one in the Air Force. Don didn't talk about it much.

I was moved. Another homeless-no-more vet laid to rest. Nothing more to be done. I'll miss Don. Torn coat and all.


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