Korean War Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C.

Korean War Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C.

Today I am doing what the majority of our American population is doing, hanging out in the sun having fun (albeit without alcohol), grilling, slurping down watermelon, etc.

But I’m also remembering a conversation I had with a young man on a plane the last time I had a drink, about seven months ago.

I was flying back home from a business trip, gulping down wine because, I told myself, I don’t like flying. I was making light conversation with the young man seated next to me. He was no more than 22 or 23, and in the army. He was coming home from a tour in Iraq – his third. I can’t recall where he had been stationed, or what his rank or job was, but as we got deeper into conversation, we went beyond the usual pleasantries and into a discussion of the unpleasant.

He told me some of the things he’d seen in Iraq – none of it fun in the sun, to say the least. I asked him how he coped with it (as I noticed he was drinking just a Sprite). He said lots of his fellow soldiers drank to excess or did drugs, but that he chose to abstain. I was in awe.

He showed me pictures of his little girl at home. Said he couldn’t wait to see her. He talked about his plans to complete his schooling when his tour of duty was done. He still had a few years left.

It was certainly a wake-up call for me. If this young man, self-assured but still so young, could do what he did – was doing – without the aid of something to numb himself, what was my excuse?

I feel for all the military and their families. I can’t imagine the sacrifices they make on a daily basis, and the stress and pain they endure. Today I am thankful to all of them.

And still in awe.


One Response to “Remembering.”

  1. 1 Sharon

    Powerful… I am also in awe of our servicemen.

    From where I stand, those who don’t have my inherited vulnerability can take alcohol or leave it… no big deal… I see the difference.

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