Tuesday, November 10 2015
A few days ago I donned my navy veteran’s ball cap and headed to a local rural diner for breakfast. During breakfast on this particular morning something special happened. A stranger walked by my booth and snatched the check from my table. “I’ll get this and the tip as well. Thank you for your service,” was all he said.
When I served in the Navy in the 60’s and 70’s, like most other servicemen back then, I hid my military identity while off base because it was dangerous. The Viet Nam war had set our nation’s nerves on edge, and a serviceman in public could draw a crowd of angry hecklers who were not above pushing, shoving, spitting, or throwing things.
Now rather than being heckled, strangers stop and thank me for my service. This is a humbling experience and I am glad that Americans now appreciates the sacrifices our service members make. This is important for both America and for those who have served.
I doubt there is a service member who has at one time or another felt they were serving a thankless world. Ask any veteran and they will probably say the coldest, hottest, wettest, and most physically demanding day in their life occurred in the service.
There is not a single service member who hasn’t felt the indescribable hollow pain of loneliness on holidays, anniversaries, or birthdays. There is not a single service member who has not felt empty and alone as they longed for a loved one’s touch, voice, smile, or that special giggle. There is not a single service member who has not considered their own mortality in the course of their service: many lost friends, and many gave their life.
So, thank you America for remembering, and you’re welcome. But, it really isn’t a big deal—we were just doing our duty.