This is a follow-up to yesterday’s Veterans Day. I was at a small market this afternoon to pick up a few things I needed since I don’t shop as often as I used to since the COVID-19.
I was waiting in line about three 6-feet lengths from the register. There was a woman with a young boy at the register and the cashier was tallying her items.
I saw her lean down towards her son and heard her say, “See that man with the Vietnam Veterans cap. He is a Veteran, and we appreciate our Veterans and what they’ve done for all of us keeping everyone in our country safe. I would like you to go over there and personally thank him for being a Veteran and for everything he’s done for us.”
I instinctively turned around to see if she was talking about someone behind me, but there was no one there. Then I remembered I had put on my Vietnam Veterans ball cap before leaving for the store since my hair was a mess.
The young boy looked at me, smiled shyly, and then strode past those in line until he stood next to me. He looked up at me and into my eyes and said, “Thank you for being a veteran and for serving our country and keeping us safe.”
I thanked him very much for what he shared. I wanted to make it a meaningful experience for him.
When I first came back from Vietnam, like many Veterans, I was not greeted warmly. Nonetheless, over the years, people gradually acknowledged my service and I would sometimes hear a thank you for your service or even occasionally a welcome home.
Having a parent encourage their young child to acknowledge a Veteran, including walking up to me and thanking me, was a first. The only time I observed this was on a television movie. It meant a lot to me, and more importantly, I trust it meant a lot to the young boy.
I finally got up to the register; the cashier totaled up the amount, and I paid. I was getting ready to push the cart and leave the store; she looked at me directly in my eyes and said, “We really do appreciate what you Veterans have done for us.” I held her gaze a few seconds; we both smiled, and I thanked her and walked out of the store feeling somehow more blessed.