~I slammed the tailgate, pole in one hand tackle box in the other, and noticed him.
He was leaning against a wooden cane staring at folks cleaning a picnic table; looked to be his wife, children and grandchildren.
I read two bumper stickers on the car he stood in front of: 101st Airborne Division and Prayer works.
I immediately liked the man.
“Excuse me sir,” I said and nodded toward his bumper.
“Yep, 101st,” he said as he grew three inches and didn’t need to lean on that old wooden cane.
I swallowed a lump, “Well sir, I just wanted to say thanks. I appreciate you.”
He waved his cane and nodded, “Your welcome.” And then his eyes looked right through me, he grew some more, his chest swelled as he said, “There are others, you tell them too, and you keep on telling them—” He paused, and clenched his jaw—“tell them before they…” He looked down and then away and slid the back of his hand across his eyes. He looked back at me and just nodded his head a few times, “Tell ‘em—just tell ‘em.”
He walked away. It was Memorial Day.
It wasn’t a simple request; it was a plea, a cry a command. And I knew at that moment I was standing in the presence of a hero, because they’re always thinking about someone else to save.
So for all of you who’ve served, this is me just wanting to say thanks. I appreciate you.