Today is the Marine Corps Birthday and tomorrow is Veteran’s day. With my family history, not days I’ll ever forget. This year has been a bit different on the outside, but not in my heart. So Happy Birthday Marines everywhere. Semper Fi. And thank you Vets everywhere.
With that, I leave you with this story:
Today, I took a man with me on my run. Not literally, but my interaction with him was certainly on my mind.
I was at the grocery store with my mom (a former Marine who served toward the end of the Vietnam era: a thankless time for Vets). We were buying the supplies our family needed to fill a box with Thanksgiving goodies to send to Africa. As we were checking out, I noticed a man in the lane next to us. He wore a leather vest with military campaign patches. I didn’t look long enough to tell what branch or what campaigns, but the word, “Vietnam,” caught my eye. Now, let me say, I have no problem walking up to a Vet to give a little gratitude, but something deep down inside makes me want to move mountains to thank those Vets who served in Vietnam to return to jeers, marginalizing hatred and dehumanizing expectoration. He was talking to someone about how he lost his Vet card but got a new one. As he pushed his cart by, on his way to the door, I said, “Thanks for your service.”
He didn’t hear me clearly and said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know I was in your way.”
I said, “No sir, thank you.” I motioned to his patches and said, “For your service. Thank you.”
He paused a moment and looked into my eyes. He opened his mouth and drew breath but nothing came out. He gathered himself and said, “Uh, thank you. I thought you were telling me I was in the way.”
“No sir,” I said.
My Mom wore combat boots. That’s right.
He walked off slowly, in disbelief, I think. I looked at my mom and she said what I knew was true through tearful eyes, “Vietnam. He doesn’t know what it’s like to be thanked.”
I’m sad that’s true. I’m thankful for how America appreciates its troops today.
I’m thankful for our troops and I’ll continue to let them know today, tomorrow and every other day of the year.