One of the furnace guys and I got to chatting yesterday afternoon. When I first looked at him, I figured him to be in his 50s. I don't know how old he was, but he mentioned Iraq. I asked if he was in Desert Storm. Nope, he got back last summer and went with my town's National Guard unit.
He wanted to go. He wanted to go because he was higher up in rank, but he wanted to be with his fellow guardsmen. He volunteered.
He told me he arrived in spring, before it was too hot. That helped his unit acclimate to the conditions there.
He didn't talk about what he did, and I didn't pry. But I did say two words to him: Thank you. He smiled, and he knew my sentiments were heartfelt.
Ever since my Dad was at the VA in Colorado, where he passed away, I just developed a bigger respect for our men and women in the armed services. It's not that I didn't respect them before, but being there enabled me to see, to feel, to experience something on a different level. And there were no Iraq vets there. It was old timers: Viet Nam vets, Korean War vets, and a few WWII vets.
I was very proud that our government took such good care of these men and women. I told the furnace-guy that.
I then asked him a very personal question. I asked him which presidential candidate would be better for the troops, the war and for our vets. As I suspected, it was not McCain. That was no surprise to me. It is unusual for where I live, though-- there are McCain/Palin signs everywhere. I don't think I've even seen an Obama sign in any yard in my town.
While I do not support this war, I do support our troops. I also support our vets. My time spent in that VA where Dad passed taught me so much.
They did something very special for Dad when he died, and they do this for all the vets that pass there. After I visited him after his passing, I had to go do paperwork at the front desk of the hospital. It took awhile. On the way to the desk, I passed the special gurney rolling down the hall, and I knew what it was and where it was going. It wasn't an ordinary gurney.
As I was at the desk, I heard my oldest sister proclaim, "Well, I don't need to see that" in disgust and horror. I turned and watched. What for her was awful, was one of the proudest moments in my life.
There was that special gurney, and Dad's nurse was pushing it. I knew it was my deceased father. What made the moment proud, though, was he was covered in the American flag. If death can be beautiful, that was. I was proud of him, for his service to our country decades before. I was proud of my government for taking such good care of him. They gave him a death of dignity.
It was beautiful.
My other sister was gracious enough to give me that flag. I cherish it.
I felt honored to have a soldier in my home (even though having him here three days was a bit unsettling!) It did remind me, though, that he wasn't the first soldier to be in my home. Dad visited here, as did Bob's dad, who was an MP during WWII.
Thank you, to all the men and women, who are serving and have served for our country.