Friday, November 9, 2012

Veteran's Day

Veteran's Day

It was a busy Friday after noon when I pulled into the car wash and an older man, about 62, greeted me. He was lean and muscular, had sandy grey hair and a limp that accentuated his steady gait.

“Wait here” he said “while I scrub your tires and rims.”

While waiting, I noticed Old Glory on a flag pole in front of the car wash and beside her stood the POW MIA flag. Both waved proudly in the breeze and as I watched them my thoughts turned to friends and relatives I’d known who had served in Vietnam. Suddenly my attention was refocused by the attendant’s voice. “Pull inside the bay and when the red light comes on stop. After the wash is complete pull out and I’ll dry off your truck.”

“Okay,” I answered putting my Chevy into gear.

Rolling up the window I slowly entered the car wash, stopped then sat patiently. Ahead of me at the exit, stood the attendant with both legs planted shoulder with apart, watching intently as the oversized washing machine cleaned my truck. His gaze was tough yet kind, like that of a person who had experienced hard times, but sought neither charity, nor pity.

After the wash had finished I pulled outside, braked to a halt and rolling down the driver’s side window once more noticed the two flags waving briskly in the afternoon breeze.

“Airborne, huh?”

“What’s that?” I said to the attendant.

“I saw your license plate, said you were Airborne, man after my own heart.”

I noticed his eyes and they were crinkled around the edges and a slight grin had crossed his face.

“Where you Airborne too?” I asked.

He nodded. “Yep. 7th Cav, did 22 months in Vietnam.  Flew casualty evacuation, no one wanted the job, so I figured someone had to do it. We got a lot those boys out. Some made it, others didn’t.”

My throat tightened because standing before me was a real hero. Someone who had rode a helicopter into battle and at the risk of his own life carried wounded soldiers back to safety.

“God bless and thanks” I stammered.

He grinned even bigger, “Everyday my feet hit the ground I’m blessed.”

We shook hands and just before leaving he said to me: “Welcome home.”

With a lump in my throat I thanked him again then pulled into traffic. Driving off I saw Old Glory snap to attention then another truck entered the car wash and as the attendant knelt and scrubbed its tires I thought: He deserves better, much better than what our country has given him.

This November 11th please take time to thank someone you know who is a veteran because as the old saying goes:

If you can read thank a teacher

If you sleep safe tonight thank a Police Officer

And if you live free thank a Veteran.

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