A few weeks ago, my daughter and I were at the pharmacy. We sat in the most uncomfortable seats for what seemed like an eternity waiting for her prescription. I was irritated and tired of just waiting and waiting. My daughter was fidgety and asking for ice cream; I told her we could get some on our way out.
Two older gentlemen sat down next me as they waited on their prescriptions as well. After a few moments, my daughter leaned over to talk to one of the men.
“I like your hat,” she said as she smiled at him.
It was a simple black hat that said “World War II Veteran” in gold letters.
I hadn’t noticed, and I felt embarrassed that it was my eight-year old daughter that pointed it out to me instead of me showing her.
The man smiled back at her and simply said, “Thank you.”
I turned slightly in my chair and asked the man what branch of the military he served in.
“My buddy and I were United States Army,” he said pointing to his friend next to him.
I wasn’t sure where to take the conversation from there; I didn’t want to ask any questions that the men may have felt uncomfortable answering. So I simply said, “Thank you for your service and sacrifice.”
With that, the man was almost apologetic. He shook his head and told me that he and his friend had gone in at the tail end of the war and simply served food to the other soldiers.
“That doesn’t sound so simple to me. I have a hard time getting dinner for a family of four on table some nights; I can’t imagine doing it for hundreds of soldiers.”
He lifted his head and quietly said, “I guess you’re right, but it was those other men that really need the thanks. They saw the worst of it.”
Perhaps, I told him, but I bet they were thankful for a decent meal. Then my daughter asked me again about her ice cream. I took a deep breath and told her if she asked one more time, there would be no ice cream.
The man in the black hat leaned forward and told my daughter that he loved ice cream too. As he sat back, he told me how ice cream was the biggest treat when he was in the army. He and his buddies would get a little brick of ice cream and sit on the ground eating it with a little wooden spoon.
The pharmacist called our name. We picked up the prescription, and I wished the men a good day. As we walked up to the ice cream, my daughter pointed out the single serving cups – each with a little wooden spoon.
“Can we get one for the army guys we met,” she asked.
We paid for our prescription and ice cream and walked back towards the pharmacy. The men were gone. My daughter was disappointed, but I told her it was a nice thought and that I was proud of her.
As we walked out to the car, my daughter yelled, “There they are!” The two men were walking up the same aisle where we had parked our car.
We hurried our steps to catch up to them, and I handed my daughter two of the ice cream cups.
“Excuse me,” she hollered. Both men turned to look. “I wanted you to have some ice cream.”
As my daughter ran back to me, I gave the men a smile and a wave hoping they understood our appreciation.
Veteran’s Day is just one day a year, but the brave men and women who have served our wonderful nation deserve our appreciation every day. Whether it is a simple, “Thank you”, your time and a conversation, or just some ice cream, take a moment to honor our veterans whenever you can.
Honor your favorite Veteran in the comment section.
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