Recently, I’ve been addressing various military groups to introduce a recreational site concept in Augusta along the Kennebec River. Our vision is to designate this area for military and civilian use as a tribute to Maine veterans. Perhaps you’ll hear more about this as the summer progresses.

In the context of my talks, I find myself referring to a young man serving in Afghanistan this very day as “the son I never had.” He’s been my “connection” to this de-escalating war. I first met Dan on a Gardiner roadside on his way to Iraq with the 133rd Engineers in 2004. Because his own parents have passed on, my wife and I were there, proudly, in 2010 when he was bumped up to lieutenant.

Like Forrest Gump, we now have a “Loo-tenant Dayn” in the family. He’s been serving at Bagram Air Base and elsewhere in that wretched land, no doubt counting the days, as I am, when they all return at the end of this month.

One summer, I overheard him playing his guitar, quietly singing “The Universal Soldier” in our backyard after a barbecue. The lyrics, in part: “He’s the Universal Soldier and he really is to blame. His orders come from far away no more. They come from here and there and you and me. And brothers can’t you see, this is not the way we put the end to war.” It was written in the ’60s – three or four wars ago.

Father’s Day is Sunday. My dad, a Navy veteran, just passed away. I’ll be thinking of him as I await the bus that’ll bring the last of the 133rd back to Maine – where I believe they belong. I just hope our Loo-tenant Dayn’s not too embarrassed when I say, “Welcome home, son.”

Buddy Doyle

Gardiner