I had a Redbox movie I needed to return (Robin Hood, if you’re wondering) and I needed to pick up a few things from the grocery store, so I decided to put on my old USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) ballcap and take advantage of the free breakfast for veterans at the local Maryville Hy-Vee Food Store.
When I walked into the store I saw the eating area fuller than I had ever seen it. There were even tables set up outside the seating area for overflow customers.
Before I could make a move towards the cashier, legendary store greeter (and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist), Fred Mares, asked me, “Are you a veteran?”
“Thank you for your service.”
He slapped my on my shoulder and said, “That’s the spirit, brother! Go get some breakfast.”
I approached the cashier and she asked if I was a veteran and after I said yes, asked if I wanted coffee or a regular drink. I opted for coffee.
After getting my food, I heard clapping from the seating area. Fred was there, looking for the oldest veteran in the room. He found an 88 year old vet enjoying his food and everyone honored him with their applause.
After sitting down at one of the few empty tables, I said my prayers, thanking God not only for the food I was about to eat, but for the lives of all the great men and women surrounding me and those who were still serving around the world.
Between bites I looked around. At 38, I was the youngest vet in the room. There were so many stories in that room, and I knew that these men and women had seen things worth honoring. They had seen battle in foreign countries. Places like Incheon, Da Nang and Omaha Beach.
Knowing that the bulk of my service involved programming and watching television and complaining when the air conditioning went out for preventive maintenance, I wondered if I even belonged in the same room as some of these folks.
It was, and is, humbling to be part of such an honorable and elite group.
God bless the veterans of the American military, and keep the men and women still serving.
Cross posted at All American Blogger.