Thursday, December 07, 2006

This is the picture that greeted me the first time I walked out of the Terminal Room on Monday. There was another conference going on, and they had the US Coast Guard Color Guard (I think that's what it was, but I may be getting confused with something else). I remember standing there for what seemed forever in awe. They stood perfectly still, in perfect formation, until they were finally introduced and walked in.

Throughout the week I've been taking various seemingly random pictures and posting them. That's what this was going to be. But this morning it took on new meaning.

When I finally recovered from the fact that I went to be around 2:20 this morning, and had gotten myself dressed and out the door, I went to the elevator. Waiting for the elevator was a serviceman, in full uniform. Throughout the week I've seen many servicemen around and had wanted to just go up and say thank you to them, but was always too chicken. So, when I've seen them I've said nothing. But, today, since I'd be riding in the elevator with him, I thought I would talk to him.

I said good morning to him and asked him which branch of the military he served in (I felt sort of stupid, because the uniform should've been giveaway....). He told me he was in the National Guard and had been for 13 years. I mentioned that Dad served in the Nat'l Guard till he retired several years ago. We stepped in the elevator and continued talking. I finally got the chance to say thank you to him and the other men and women who serve their country with such pride. I told them that, in spite of the idiots who say otherwise, the job they're doing is important and there are those of us who are proud of our military and want to see them succeed. As we continued walking out the door, he told me that, contrary to what Senator Kerry says, he's currently working on his Master's degree (I didn't quite understand what he said it was in). He mentioned his undergrad was done in IT, and I asked him if he was here for LISA, and then rethought that as he was in uniform. Sure enough, he was here for some military recruiting conference.

We continued walking down the street. I'd decided that I was going to do McDonald's for breakfast and didn't know where the soldier was going. As we got to the door of McD's, he mentioned he was stepping in to get breakfast. So, I went in with him.

He and I sat down and ate. There was nothing particularly spectacular about the conversation, typical small talk.

But I ate as if I was in the presence of some foreign dignitary or someone equally important. You'd think I wouldn't have that reaction having grown up with a father in the Nat'l Guard. I saw soldiers on a regular basis.

But maybe I've done some growing. As I've heard the stories about the casualties in the war, as I've heard about the sacrifices our military men and women have made for this country, as I've heard about the SUCCESS they've had in Afghanistan and Iraq, and as I've heard the callous criticism of our troops that comes from those who have no clue of what it means to give oneself for something greater than their own self-interest, the military has taken on a brand new light.

To Walter and to all our service men and women, both at home and over seas....thank you.

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