I was going to do a blog entry this week about the battle over stop and frisk vs. gun violence, but fate intervened. I realize that every now and then, things happen in my own life which are worth sharing. I tell this story in the belief that, if only one person is affected by it, telling the tale is worth my while.
It was a Saturday morning like most. I was on my way to the gym, but beforehand I had to stop at the bank. The small city in which I live is racially diverse, and considered one of the most progressive in the state where it's located. That's a big reason why I enjoy living here. As I was leaving the bank, I happened to see a young member of our armed forces walking down the street in the full uniform of a US Marine. With him was either a friend or a sibling. As they walked past me, I heard the Marine say to someone on the street, "You're welcome, sir." I realized someone had thanked him.
As I got in may car and started to drive to the gym, the strangest thing happened. I suddenly realized I needed to thank this kid, just as the person walking past him had. It's not like I hadn't done it before. Several years ago, I was in the Norfolk, Va. airport, one which has a fair number of service people passing through it. I spent some time sitting on a bench with some uniformed people, and took the time to thank them for their service. I'll never forget the surprised smiles on their faces as they said, "Thank you, sir."
I knew the Marine this Saturday morning was heading in a particular direction, and if I went around the block I would pass him, even though it wasn't on my way to the gym. And so I drove around the block, and sure enough, there he was with his friend/relative, and another person who was talking to him. I couldn't make out what was said, but the guy shook his hand, then walked off in a different direction. I knew what I had to do. I slowed down, rolled down my window and said, "Yo Marine! Thank you!"
At first he looked just a little surprised. Then he broke out in a huge smile, and replied, "Thank YOU sir!" I kept on driving and the memory of Norfolk Airport came right back to me. The moral of this story? The place where I live isn't one of those that wears its Americanism on its sleeve. I consider myself a person of peace, and I'm opposed to war in virtually all circumstances. Yet there's something that feels right about a US Marine, walking down the street in full uniform, gratefully acknowledging the thanks from just plain folks who respect his service to our country.
A small gesture on a summer day. One worth repeating, isn't it?