Today we observe the Armistice of 1918 by celebrating all of the men and women who have served in our military. The 11th of November is known as “Veterans Day” here in the U.S. Elsewhere, it is called “Remembrance Day” or “Armistice Day”.
This day commemorates the ceasefire that ended hostilities between the Allied and German forces on the Western Front in the First World War.
Known as the Great War, WWI was supposed to be the “war to end all wars”. It was not and almost a full century later we honor our brave men and women in uniform who have served our country both past and present.
I’d like to dedicate this Veterans Day to one of my best friends from childhood and U.S. armed forces veteran: Holden Lindblom. Holden and I met in 6th grade when he moved from North Carolina to Massachusetts. I was 11 years old and I had only moved up from New York just two years before. We were both new kids from elsewhere. We lived just a few blocks away from each other and took the same bus home from school.
One day I was reading a historical fiction book titled, “Flames of the Tiger”. There was a big German Tiger tank engulfed in flames on the cover. Holden was sitting behind me on the bus and kept popping up over the back of my seat. This fucking kid kept reading over my shoulder. And he wasn’t quiet about it.
“Stop it!” I had a short fuse as a kid. And I couldn’t really read so I needed to concentrate like crazy. NO DISTRACTIONS.
“What?” This kid instantly sassed me.
“Stop reading over my shoulder!” I was not a friendly kid either. No pleasantries were exchanged whatsoever. I must have had a bad day of middle skool.
I’m sure that I said something incredibly rude to Holden. I didn’t even know his name yet but knowing what kind of rotten little bastard I was back then I am very sure that I called him a “fagit” or something. And knowing Holden, I think that he just laughed at my fuckery and introduced himself because he was always a good kid deep down.
I was lucky that this funny, overly friendly kid behind me was persistent and made friends with me in spite of my outwardly unfriendly disposition. I never thought about it until now, but I think that Holden becoming friends with me made me less mean. He was a good guy.
Holden introduced himself after I gave up and put my book away. We had a short conversation and we learned that both of us weren’t from here. He told me about how he’d just moved up from North Carolina. I told him about moving up from New York just two years earlier.
Riding the bus together to and from our middle school made us fast friends. Before Holden, I had never had a friend who lived in the same neighborhood as I had. He was my first true buddy. And best of all, he fit into my already established friends group. I never realized until college how fucking hard it is to bring a new friend into a previously established friends group. It fucking sucks, man. It is hard as balls. I feel like very few people understand that when they are introduced into a new friends group that they have an obligation to be friendly and not standoffish or weird. Holden was weird, but we were all weird kids. So he fit in in no time at all and soon all of us in the neighborhood were hanging out.
I moved away after middle school and Holden and I had a hard time staying in touch. In 2011 when we both graduated, Holden joined the Army and I was headed to film school. I drank myself nearly to death. Holden survived a full 9-month tour of active duty in Afghanistan. The funny part is that it was my college essay that got me into film school. I wrote about the first movie I’d ever made, which was with Holden back in middle school. That was almost ten years ago now when we were both 13 years old. This was one of the most important friendships of my life.
That’s what’s been on my mind this Veterans Day. It’s too easy to forget about the people who matter to most to you. Today, I didn’t just think about my friend but I looked up to him. I’m just thankful that guys like my friend Holden get a day dedicated to them. Holden was honorably discharged back in April and he’s finally back home where we grew up. I need to get back in touch with him and I hope I can soon. We’ve got a lot to catch up on. I hope that everybody got a moment today to reflect on their own Holden Lindblom. Our veterans are never going to know how much they mean to us. We’re all lucky. The least we can do today is to think on how lucky we are.
We’re lucky and we’re all thankful for our friends and loved ones and family members who served our countries (to everyone all over the world today). But I feel luckiest of all because I can still remember the first time I met my friend Holden.