Small town girl. Joins Navy. Sees the world. Flies in planes. Hunts submarines. Gets out of military and has 3 kids. Rejoins Air National Guard as an "old lady" of 38.

A humorous compilation of stories and lessons learned. Usually the hard way.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

This one day- I stalked a veteran.

One time, I was driving and came to a stop sign.  Right smack dab in front of me I noticed a car with a license plate with the words Vietnam POW on it.  Instantly I thought wow.  There is a true-life hero right in front of me.

Then I got a great idea.  I thought, I should tell him that!  I should thank him for his service!  I'm sure it would just have to make his day.  I had it all planned out perfectly in my head.

There was just one problem.  He was in his car moseying down the road and I was in mine.  And so, it was then that I decided to I followed him.  Not to his home or anything.  That would be psychotic of me.  Just to the grocery store where he appeared to be headed.  

I made it look like I was going there all along.  I can always use groceries, right?  When he parked, I slyly  slithered my car in a few parking spots down from his.  Then, casually, I took my time getting out- making sure he and his lovely wife got out first.  I didn’t want to be too obvious.  I checked my teeth in the sun shade mirror.  I rifled through my purse.  I glanced out of the corner of my eye to see them rounding the corner into the grocery store.

I leapt out of my car trying to look casual-ninja like.  I began to whistle and swing my arms, knowing for sure this would help me blend in.

As I entered the store, I cursed under my breath as they were suddenly nowhere in sight.  Ugh- this was starting to get complicated.

I grabbed a cart and skillfully began checking every aisle.  Finally I spotted them near the spaghetti sauces.  I gasped.  I love spaghetti too! 

Quickly and stealthily I raced into the next aisle.  I figured I’d cut them off head-on and make it look like an accident that I ran into him.  Not literally.  I’m not crazy.  Mostly.

So as I strolled about and began whistling again,  I saw him come into my aisle and he was wearing his Vietnam POW hat- which was good.  Otherwise I'd have to explain how I saw his license plate.  I worked up the courage and when he was in ear shot I blurted out with the greatest sincerity, “Thank you so much for your service, sir!”

He paused for a moment, looking surprised for a second and then smiled warmly, “Oh, this?” He touched his hat.  “Well, you’re very welcome.  Thank you for noticing.”

And without thinking, I said, “I just can’t imagine what it must have been like for you- and I thank you for your sacrifice.”

“Yes ma’am.  It wasn’t easy, that's for sure."  He shook his head.  "I spent 5 years over in there in a POW camp.  It was… “ his voice trailed off.  “Well, it was something else.  But I’m home now.”  He put his arm around his wife that stood next to him.  She looked up at him and smiled.  As they walked away she put her hand on my arm.  “Take care dear.” She smiled.  And I knew it meant something.

As I stood there, I came down from the rush of my 'mission' and reality hit me.  I tried to wrap my mind around the thought.  Five years in a POW camp- each day not knowing if it was his last or if he’d ever make it home again.  I could not imagine the things this man must have seen.  Stuff that no human should ever see or endure.  Somehow just saying thank you seemed hardly enough.   And I began to think we as Americans owe everything we are and have to this man.  Everything. 

I think of him today- as well as the hundreds of thousands of others that have gone before me- giving all they had to keep our country free.  Because of them we can go to bed at night and not have to sleep in fear- wondering if our families would be alive by sunrise like so many other countries must think about every night.  Until you've seen a third world country you never realize just how good we have it.

And so on this weekend as we’re celebrating our extra day off of work, barbecuing, or traveling, I ask that you please remember for just a moment what Memorial Day truly is about.  And thank a veteran today and every chance you get.  For our eyes know not what they’ve seen.

Though I personally have resolved not to stalk veterans anymore (or anyone for that matter) I will continue to thank them every opportunity I have.

To all my brothers and sisters in arms past present and future:  thank you.

All gave some.  Some gave all.


  1. Excellent post. Very funny. Sounds like something i would do! Whenever I see a veteran I always want to say something - and I always chicken out. Next time, I won't.

    And thank YOU for your service! :-)

    1. Yes- never be afraid to. I think the same about policemen and firemen!
      And thank you. I was honored to be a part of something so grand.

  2. PS - I totally pimped you out on my Facebook page. :-)