And he looks me in the eye and says…they threw pigs blood at me. Guts. Pig guts. On my uniform. And suddenly my own troubles melt away like sugar cubes in hot earl gray tea and I realize this veteran has felt pain, has breathed pain, has lived pain. My own worries of debt, housing, jobs, all superfluous because I am taken care of, I have not fought, I have not had the blood of an animal flung on me, I do not have human blood on my hands. My job has never been to kill to hold on to what I believe. He says he cannot talk anymore because he will start to cry. Two options: to cry or to shut down. Both sometimes ending in violence because this is the seed we have planted. This is the trauma we have raised like the small suckling pig hurled through the air in 1975 when the war had ended. Saigon. Put them out of their misery and sweep up the bodies after the parade of death. Leave the enemies behind and let those bodies rot as a reminder. All of this in a small five minute conversation where I try myself to hold back the tears because my empathy goes on overdrive—all I can say is thank you and look behind me at the child who knows of this pain too. Please, let me listen to your story. Please, tell me about who you are. You are so important to this world and I won’t forget. I honor you.