This year my wife and I decided to go out to eat on Veteran’s day. I had the day off work, so we decided to brave the crowds. We took the kids and headed to a restaurant that we wanted to give another try hoping to beat the crowds. Every restaurant we drove past had a line out the door and the one we stopped at was no different. So, we got out and waited with our three small children.
Veterans and their families stood in line for about an hour to be served a free meal. Ages ranged from early 20s to probably late 80s. In order to get everyone seated and fed in a timely manner the single vets were seated together, most not knowing anyone else at their table. They chatted like old friends with the only commonality being that they served to fight and protect our country.
I didn’t feel out of place, because I too am a vet. I entered the Air Force in the summer of 1974 and I married my bride 5 months later. What we know that many realized later is that being in the military is not just a job, but a demanding position that not only affects the military member but the family also. Every assignment I had my family served with me. Every hardship, they endured also. They too made friends from once strangers, who still touch our lives.
We were blessed that I did not see combat even though I did serve in Korea for a year. I went in at the close of the Vietnam war. It was officially over when I entered, so after basic training I was able to stay stateside. I was trained as an Engineering Technician and learned all about construction. I was taught everything from project development, drafting, surveying, soils analysis, and hands on construction. All was in preparation of having to go in after an airfield attack and rebuilding the structures and runway. I did use my skills but never in a combat situation.
After twenty years, in 1994, I retired and started a new career. But, I can still recall hundreds of men and women that I had the opportunity to sit down and eat with. I didn’t know anything about them at first but we became friends with a common bond.
All of this is to say “Thank You” to all who served and the many who gave their lives for this common bond – America. Also, thank you to those who honor soldiers of past and present with these small tokens of gratitude. God bless.
And, I want to wish my grandson, Aaron, a super, Happy Birthday!
***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.