Thank You – Memorial Day

I was riding the subway yesterday and an older man came on. He had a weather beaten face and an even more beaten jacket, the kind that had seen better days. Not the look of a man asking for money, but the look of someone who is proud of every abrasion, every bit of wear and tear both he and his jacket have seen. On the back it simply said "Vietnam Veteran".

I had forgotten that it was Memorial Day. I suddenly realized why it was Fleet Week and why I was seeing so many men and women in uniform. That's just not the way my brain works now. He had a series of combat ribbons on his jacket. I felt a flood of empathy and gratitude well up in me. I could only imagine what he had seen and what he had been through, not just in the field, but in his life afterwards.

My eyes began to well up as we arrived at my stop. As I passed him I leaned down and said, "Thank you." He looked up at me and smiled. He said "thank you" back, with an emphasis on the you.

The image of his face is still with me. As is his smile and that row of ribbons.

He has given so much. He continues to give so much.

We should all be so proud of our actions.