Monday, August 20, 2007

to Tyler

I met a hero today.

He was sitting on the couch during my son's karate class. Young gentleman, probably mid to late 20's. He's interested in joining the dojo for the mental discipline as well as the physical training. In the course of visiting with him I found out he was a marine. He served in Afghanistan in the infantry and in the course of doing so was shot twice, once in the abdomen.

I've never met a veteran before. Oh sure, when I was in grade school they would parade the geezers from World War II past us with their funny white spats on their shoes as they carried in the flag. But I was young and unaware of...well anything outside the playground.

But this was different. This kid is younger than me. YOUNGER. And yet has seen so much more than I will ever see. Thankfully!

In the course of visiting with me, he told me how hard it has been to maintain body weight and where he was once 175 he now struggles to keep it at 155. :-/ I wanted to make a joke about wishing I had that problem but not being willing to pay that price. But I didn't. Because what he went through for our country isn't funny and it would have been monumentally disrespectful of me to have made that kind of joke to a complete stranger.

He talked about his injury and said that the muscles are no longer in the correct position and lifted his shirt to show me the wound.

I have never seen a bullet wound scar before. Ever. And certainly not one that was taken for me, however indirectly. It was right below his sternum and left a sunburst pattern around a light pink center the size of a quarter.

I wanted to thank him for what he has endured but didn't know how to say the words.


Telmeimrong said...

Thank You is al you can say. Words can't repay what a vet has endured for us (directly) so we shouldn't even try.

Poodles Rule said...

A thank you is probably always a great idea. They probably need to hear that because I think a lot of people in this current political adminstration have convinced many people that if you don't support this war then you must hate the troops.

I would rather buy a soldier a cup of coffee and bug my senators to bring them home than put one of those stupid ribbons on my car.

Christian said...

i would have made the joke....but then again I can be a real jerk

Attila The Mom said...

Thank you for writing this beautiful post.

Fiery said...

Christian- if he had been you, I would have made the joke too, this time, it just wasn't right.

ATM- I'm pleased that you liked it! :)

Christian said...

Quite right Fiery.
I think at the mome you could call my mum a skanky ho and I wouldn't be offended ;-)

Fiery said...

Never! But if I don't get a PM soon I may go into nasty withdrawal and get a belly ache.


janice said...

I think you just did FE, you did fine. Great post, thanks for sharing it with us!

janice said...

No matter what you think about the war, knowing what to say to one of our brave military personal, isn't easy.

2 years ago we were in Vegas, just hanging out in our hotel casino. In walks a very young marine (maybe 20) and his new bride, walking as proud as he could be. My husband and brother both walked up to him, shook their hands and offered to buy them a drink.

I stayed back and watched, for a while. He couldn't have been much older than my own son who was 19 at the time, and they looked scared.

After 15 or 20 minutes when I could finally stop weeping enough to walk up to them, shook their hands, wished them a long happy marriage and thank him for his service to our country.

It still makes me weep thinking about them.

There's no right way to do it.

Xavier Onassis said...

Just say "thanks". That's all.

My dad is a vet of WWII and Korea. He's one of those guys you will see with the veterans baseball caps, the thick glasses, the polyester pants up around their nipples and the orthopedic walking shoes. He hasn't seen active service in over 65 years. But he will still tear-up with pride describing how a perfect stranger who couldn't be more than 25 will walk up to him, shake his hand and offer thanks for his service.

Just say thanks. That's all.

Doesn't matter who sent them or why they went.

Just say thanks.