Twenty-some years ago before he married my mom
and they started a family, my father moved to the
small town where I grew up. His daily routine
came to include sitting down for coffee at a
local restaurant before work in the mornings,
where he came to share many mornings with those
who eventually became dear friends.
One of the men, who shall remain nameless
simply because he does not know I am writing to
you, had served some time in Vietnam. During his
tour, this man stepped on a land mine as a
Sargeant. He lost his leg. Only on rare occasion
during their 20 years of friendship has this man
spoken of his Army days to my dad, but nonetheless
he has left a lasting impression. You see, my
parents and this man and his wife all went to a
fair together when the other couple had a young
son. When it came time to leave, it was raining.
People were running to their cars. A young boy
though, held his father's hand, and they walked.
Such a simple thing, running through the rain,
only when you sacrifice a leg for your country,
that is a privilege you do not have.
My dad will never forget that image of a
son walking with his father, getting soaked,
while everyone around them runs for shelter.
Even though I was not there, I will forever have
this image embedded in my mind as well. Once in
conversation when he did share about his
experiences in Vietnam, my father thanked this
humble yet respected man for his sacrifices
and time. After all that time, and all those
years, no one had ever said thank you. When they
had come home from Nam, people threw bricks at
them and spit upon them...but no one said thank
you, and no one had since. I know my dad's
genuine appreciation and thank you meant
something to him.
All this is to simply say that we must not
forget. We must not forget that even when our
Marines, our Soldiers, our Sailors, and everyone
else who serves this country comes home, their
troubles are not over. We run to our cars when it
rains, but they do not. They have given us that
ability to run, in order that they may walk
through the puddles and come home soaking wet.
Their sons and daughters hold their hands as the
world swirls about them seeking shelter... Some
lose legs, some lost arms, or sanity, or
innocence, or a number of other things that we
cannot see. So when we meet someone in an airport
or a mall, and we know they have served or are
currently serving the USA, instead of thinking,
"they've been thanked," we need to remember those
who have waited 20 years before someone has
said those words of gratefulness, and we must
remember that some have waited even longer. They
have not all been thanked, and two thank-you's
never hurt anyone. It's the least we can do for
the ability, the freedom, and the strength
to "run in the rain," and do all the other
things which we are allowed to do because of
that same gift of sacrifice.
Apr 24, '04
Absolutely beautiful, Frances.
Apr 24, '04
A special shout out should also go out to all the medical personnel in the armed services who have the challenging job of trying to make whole, what combat has torn apart.