Roughly a month ago I was walking through the local food mart here in Myrtle Beach when I noticed an elderly man wearing a hat memorializing the unit with which he served our country. He was with a woman I presumed to be his wife.
“Excuse me, sir, I don’t mean to interrupt your day, but I just wanted to thank you for serving our country and for protecting my freedoms.”
Yes, the military protects our freedoms. A few months ago I was chatting in an ESPN forum. Some wingnut wrote to me, “Tell me how. How do they protect our freedoms?” I responded that I didn’t have to tell him anything if he is too thick-headed to understand. Then I wrote to him that, “the military is a family that extends back to the founding of our wonderful country. Our forefathers were protecting our freedoms, were they not?” Chirp. Chirp. I never did get a response.
The gentleman in the food mart offered me his hand upon my expressing gratitude for his service and he said, “You are most welcome, son.”
We talked for a minute as his wife continued shopping. During the course of that conversation he said to me one of the most beautiful things that I’ve ever heard: “I’d do it again if I could.”
“That is beautiful.” Tears welled in my eyes for two reasons. First of all, I’m so proud to live in the United States of America, the greatest country in the world. Secondly, I was humbled to be in the presence of a very honorable man.
“I’d do it again if I could.” Think about that. This gentlemen and so many others love their families and country so much that they are willing to give their lives for it. That’s courage. Truly heroic. In the few moments we shared in the grocery store and ever since then, I’ve looked up to him despite his shrinking physical stature in his advancing years.
Then I told him that I had considered going into the Navy or the Air Force both before and after graduating from college and that I regret to this day that I didn’t.
He consoled me. He said to me that we all take different paths in life and to not live with regret. Life’s to short to burden yourself with self-loathing, he said, in a nutshell.
Today, I salute all veterans. Today, I give props to every person who is serving our country in the military. Everyday should be Veterans Day, but I know of this special day’s origins.
Veterans Day is a federal holiday honoring those who have served in the United States’ armed services. It coincides here in our country with Armistice Day. Armistice Day commemorates the signing of a truce between the allies and Germany at the 11th hour of the 11th day of November in Compiegne, France, in 1918, ceasing hostilities on the Western Front during World War I.
Below is a small token of my appreciation to both veterans and anyone who is serving in the military.
(Photos by DBB correspondent Rob Hufnagle)