Posted by: unlikelygrad | May 22, 2009

Memorial Day Post: why I hate being shy

One of the things I hate the most is standing on one side of Main Street and watching the bus I want to catch pull up to the stop on the other side. It takes so long for the light to turn red for the cross traffic that I almost never make it across before the bus leaves.

I’ve been lucky of late. This happened to me yesterday but the bus driver had seen me on the corner as he drove up, recognized me, and waited until I crossed. Bless him! Today it happened again. Again, I managed to get on the bus, but only because an elderly couple took an inordinately long time to board, thus allowing me to race across the street in time.

As it happened, the only seat available was the one facing the elderly couple, so I couldn’t help but look at them. They could have been any couple in their early 80’s: quiet, wrinkly all over, wearing clothes that were in style about 20 years ago. He wore a baseball cap and carried a cane; she wore a hat and carried an umbrella. Their bus passes hung from lanyards around their neck.

I looked again. The man’s lanyard had the letters USA and big American flags all over it. His baseball cap said, “World War II Vet”. And he was ethnically Japanese. What would it have taken this man to serve his country in the face of Anti-Japanese sentiment? I wanted to thank the man for his service, but my natural shyness kicked in.

I’ve never met a WWII vet I didn’t like: seems like they always sacrificed so much. Like my husband’s grandfather, who left behind a wife and two children–both under 5–and went ashore on D-Day.

Am I willing to sacrifice that much for my country?

In an ideal world, of course, there would be no need for war: any disputes would be solved at the negotiating table. But we don’t live in an ideal world. As long as there are kooks and madmen in the world who value their greed and power above human life, war will be a necessity.

Memorial Day is not just an excuse for a long weekend. It’s a time to remember that people are willing to stand up in the face of prejudice, to leave behind their families, and to give up their lives to keep the world free. I was too shy to say thank you to the man on the bus, so I’m doing it here, in writing. I hope someone else tells him thank you for me.



  1. Memorial Day is about those that have fallen in war. I am a military brat (my father is/was a career soldier) and still work as a civilian career scientist for the Army helping the soldiers that serve our country in a way I never could. For someone who was shy to another. Get over it. Just do not give a shit what anyone thinks of you. Once you can do that, shyness gone. Been in Monterey three times. Nice place to visit, but not to live. I would say that about California in general. Great place to visit, but I would never want to live there.

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