A special reminder

Published 9:13 pm Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It’s not unusual at all to see Andy Damiani standing on the side of the street in downtown Suffolk. Mr. Downtown, as he is widely known for his tireless work to improve and promote the city’s core community, is a bit of a roving landmark along the sidewalks and streets of historic Suffolk.

In some ways, then, seeing Damiani on Monday as he stood on the sidewalk alongside North Main Street near the entrance to Cedar Hill Cemetery was pretty standard stuff. But the former mayor and City Council member, whose slight stature is overwhelmed by his outsized contribution to the city of Suffolk, made an even greater impression on many passersby than usual.

As they went about their business on Veterans Day 2012, folks who passed by Mr. Downtown saw him wearing his American Legion cap and waving a small flag as he leaned on his cane. His eyes seemed not so much to focus on the cars passing by as they appeared to look through the decades leading back to World War II, when he served his nation in the way that probably fit him best, as a musician playing a string bass in a band that sold military bonds and later played for the soldiers serving near the European front.

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Damiani said he wanted to make people aware of veterans, and he seemed pleased when folks waved or beeped their horns at him as they drove past.

Unfortunately, for much of America, that’s where the recognition and memory stops. They drive on past the veteran remembering his fallen comrades, and their lives go on without pause. It’s a sad commentary on the attention span and self obsession of a nation.

Men like Andy Damiani are special for many reasons. On Monday, he reminded Suffolk that one thing that makes them so special is their service to the nation.