Thursday, July 1, 2010

What did he give me?

A couple months ago I was at the post office with my 3-year-old. Behind us in line was a soldier in uniform, and my son was very interested in him.

We were leaving the post office at the same time as this man, and he could see that my son was interested in him and his uniform. He stopped to say hi and "give me five!"

For some reason I am always too shy to thank a soldier in uniform, even though I think I should every time I see one (which happens a lot, because we live near a military base). But I didn't want to let the opportunity pass, so I asked my son to "Tell him thank you." It was my passive way to get the message to this man without having to say it directly to him myself (which I know is silly, but it's true).

When I asked my son to "tell him thank you," he looked up at me confused and said, "What did he give me?"

I almost started crying right there in the post office, as I considered the question and how I would answer it. I told him I would explain in the car (so I wouldn't cry in front of all the other post office patrons).

In my life, I have been fairly disconnected from the reality of the military and the sacrifices that people make. My father was in the Army before I was born, and I've always been proud of that. Many of my uncles have served in the military, some fighting in wars. I know those stories, but they happened a long time before I was born. So I can honestly say that my son's question, "What did he give me?" made me feel feelings of gratitude for those men and women in a way I hadn't before.

When we got to the car I told him something along the lines of, "We want to thank that man because he keeps us safe, and sometimes he's not safe while he's keeping us safe."

I thought about the courage it would take to know that someday you might have to go to a dangerous place where you might have your life on the line. I thought about wives and children, mothers and fathers who say goodbye, hoping and praying for their loved one's safe return. I've never been a part of that group, and I am so thankful for all of those people.


Lisa said...

Ugh, I know how you feel. I thanked a soldier once, and he said, "you must have someone in your family in the service." I told him, that I didn't, that I was just thankful for the sacrifice he had made. He was genuinely surprised. It's sad to me that some people don't appreciate the huge sacrifice that these soldiers make. Their families deserve so much credit as well. When my brother was on his mission, I thought that the only people on earth who can understand what having a missionary out feels like are families of soldiers. The difference is that they don't have the same confidence that their family member will come home safe and alive. I am so grateful for our troops! And I'm not going to watch that video, those always make me cry! :)

Lisa said...

Ok, I watched it. And I cried. :)

Jacque said...

What a wonderful post, Em. Both your story and the video.

Carrie said...

Oh, man! If my husband and daughter weren't sitting right here, I'd be bawling hysterically! Instead I'm holding back the muffled sobs. That was so sweet. I kept thinking of my sister who just lost her husband to cancer, and how that reunion is going to be someday. My sister and their 4 kids reunited with their husband/daddy. I know it doesn't have anything to do with the Military, but oh well ;)

NIKOL said...

I will not watch the video for now because I can tell I'd cry, and I'm currently at work, and I need to keep up my cold, heartless exterior.

You know, I hate to admit that I've never really thought to thank a soldier when I see them. But I certainly will next time I do.

Emily said...

What a sweet story and teaching opportunity for your son. You made me cry. I love your blog, Em.

Brady & Josie Martinez said...

Loved this, so sad/happy... good eye opener for sure! Love you big Cuz!