(originally posted July 10th, 2010)
I decided to make a stop in at a local gas station on my way home from work today. As I was walking in to the station, I noticed a small, sand-colored military transport vehicle parked out front. This is not an abnormal thing to see around here, as there is a small armory and recruitment center adjacent to the county courthouse and township police department.
Nor is it an abnormal thing for me to try to pick out the soldier as I always try to make it a point to thank any soldiers I should happen to see for their service. Upon a glance around the inside of the station, the soldier wasn’t hard to spot. Head to foot in digitally produced grey-green camo, she was over getting a coffee. I pondered getting an iced tea for myself but realized I still had a pop from work left in the car. So I headed to the register to pay for my gas and she ended up two places in front of me in line.
Behind her was a young girl decked out for summer, and when the soldier finished paying for her coffee she quickly headed out the right hand door. I had presumed since her army truck was just outside the left hand door that she would head that way and thus was standing off to that side as to thank her as she finished her business with the clerk.
Realizing that the clerk was likely to take his time with the cute young girl in the tube top, I walked over to the left hand door as to catch the soldier’s attention on her way back to her vehicle.
She seemed to be in a hurry to get back on the road, so I stated simply “Lest you should chance to leave before I’m done inside, I just wanted to say Thank You.”
As I stated, I make a practice of doing this, and generally speaking when I say such without pretense, I either get a puzzled look or will actually get the question back “what for?” Thus I was initially surprised when she simply smiled a knowing smile and said with little ado “You’re welcome.”
While driving home, I thought on this further and had little doubt she knew precisely what I had said thank you for. I pondered this further and it occurred to me that this likely was not the first time, likely not the second, third or even 10th. based on what ease of understanding she immediately had as to the nature of the tribute.
This realization, that I was not the only one in this area that was making a point of thanking our armed service men – that her quick understanding seemed to suggest that there were in fact MANY such someones – gave me an overwhelming feeling of pride. A feeling so gratifying that it nearly brought me to tears. Alas, there are still reasons to be proud of being American!