Welcome Home

 

Pamela Perry Blaine

©January, 2006

 

(Story as told to me by a Viet Nam Veteran

who prefers to remain anonymous)

 

 

The other day I was walking into the local Wal-Mart store when

I noticed an older man walking beside a younger man. 

The younger man was wearing army fatigues.  

 

I was curious so I stopped and asked, “Excuse me young man,

but I was just wondering if you were in the service

or are you just wearing fatigues?" 

 

The young man stated that he was really in the army and

then his Dad added in a strong voice that was filled with

pride, “This is my son and he has just returned

from his second tour in Iraq."

 

I told him how glad I was that he had returned home safely

 and then I said, “Young man, I would like to do something

for you that no one outside of my family did for me

when I returned home from serving in Viet Nam.”

 

“What is that?” he asked. 

 

“I’d be proud to welcome you home by shaking your hand

if I might and say thank you for your service

to our country,” I said as I held out my hand. 

 

The young soldier and his Dad both stood a little taller

as the young man stuck out his hand which I readily grasped

and we just stood there, the three of us, with our right hands joined.

 We were three strangers drawn together by a common bond,

we all understood, not needing to say anything more. 

 

After nodding to each other, I started to break the grasp and

walk away but the young soldier seemed to have something

 on his mind as he hesitated, and then he stopped me

before I could move.  He was quiet for a moment and then he

 looked me straight in the eye and then he ever so clearly

uttered the words, "Thank you . . . and . . . Welcome Home”.

 

We then parted company as we went our separate ways. 

I finished buying the supplies I needed, walked on home,

and oh yeah … I cried.

 

(Anonymous Viet Nam veteran)

 

We often forget to be thankful to those who serve our country,

protect us from terrorism, and preserve our freedom. 

We have veterans living today that have served us in WWII,

Korea, Viet Nam, and The Persian Gulf.  We have those

on active duty who are serving our country right now

in Iraq as well as other places around the world. 

 

Today the average age of a WWII Veteran is 81;

we are quickly losing them from the battlefield of life. 

They are now leaving us at the rate of 1500 per day. 

I see many of them carrying our flag in parades and

participating in military funerals.  They tell me the veteran’s

organizations need more veterans to help them with these

duties now.  This is due to the failing health and the deaths

of most of the WWII veterans who have kept these

organizations alive with their unswerving dedication

and patriotism.  Perhaps it’s time we expressed appreciation

with a card or a phone call to someone we know personally

while there’s still time.  It shouldn’t have to be Memorial Day

or Veteran’s Day for us to be appreciative toward all

of our veterans no matter where they served.  The point is

that they served and gave of themselves

that we might live in freedom.

 

We can also show our appreciation to those serving us

right now by writing letters, sending e-mails,

or sending packages to our soldiers. *   Today is a good day

 to be grateful, there’s no time like the present and it’s

the only time that we have for certain.  When we see or

hear of a soldier coming home from war, most important of all,

let’s remember to give them a heartfelt,

“Thank you . . . and . . . Welcome Home!”

 

Pamela Perry Blaine

©January, 2006

 

"If you love your freedom, thank a vet"

 

*Internet Link to a site for more information on ways to support our troops:

 

www.americasupportsyou.mil/americasupportsyou/index.aspx

 

Internet Link to a tribute to WWII Vets

http://www.managedmusic.com/beforeyougo.html