I can remember walking through the lobby of the building when I was young. It was chilly outside at that time of the year, and the large room was warm and comforting once we had stepped through the doorway. My hands hurt from the outside bitterness, my knuckles turning a soft shade of purple, like they always did in the cold, and my fingers shaking of their own accord. I rubbed my palms together while I tried to regain some of the warmth in them. He took one of my hands in his own, dwarfing mine. The warmth from his fingers stung my frozen ones, and I shoved my other fist into my purple jacket’s pocket.
I glanced up at him, and he was smiling. His beard was streaked through with grey, his glasses were foggy around the edges from the cold, and his eyes were crinkled at the corners with smile lines. I had always loved his smile lines. Though he was never one to be characteristically elderly, those smile lines always made him look so much younger than I knew he felt.
He knelt down next to me, pointing along the walls where a few grand flags with varying emblems were strung up around Old Glory. “You see that flag right there? The one that says ‘Army’? That was my branch,” he said proudly. “That one is for the Marines. That’s the Navy. That one is the Air Force, and the last one with the two anchors is the Coast Guard,” he gestured to each flag as he spoke, eyes still crinkled at the corners.