I wanted to share an experience that Lizze and I had yesterday. The reason I’m sharing this with you is not to call attention to what we did, but instead call attention to what we experienced.
Yesterday, Lizze and I tried to celebrate a belated Valentines Day.
The boys were at my parents and we had the house to ourselves. I think any parent can understand the appeal to having a quite house every once in awhile. However, where your an #Autism parent, you appreciate it a whole lot.
Lizze and I had decided to grab some take out as neither one of us had the energy left to cook anything to eat.
We ended up at a local Chipotle and found ourselves in a rather long line.
In front of us, a few people ahead in line, was a United States Servicemen. This gentleman happened to be in the Navy and appeared to be stationed overseas but home on leave. He was a large, powerful looking man. As everyone around him was talking or texting, not one person even made eye contact with him. He stood there, silently as Lizze and I watched everyone else go on as though he wasn’t even there.
Lizze and I both have friends and family in the United States military, in fact, Elliott is named after a friend that was killed in action.
Needless to say, we are very fond of our men and women in uniform.
A few years ago, Lizze decided that whenever we would come across someone in the military, she would work up the courage to walk over to them and say thank you for everything they do for us.
This is something that is really difficult for my wife (an aspie) because she doesn’t do well with meeting new people. Having said that, her desire to thank them for their service to our country, drives her to overcome her fear and son what she k iws in her heart, is right.
While we were standing in line, I asked her if she wanted to thank this servicemen? She started to panic a little because she’s already overwhelmed with life and this seemed like it may just be too much for her that day. However, after a bit a going back and forth about it, I suggested that we pay for his lunch.
Now, it’s important to keep in mind that we are struggling ourselves, so while this may not seem like a big deal to some, it certainly was for us.
Having said that, this sacrifice on our part, pales in comparison to what this silent servicemen has sacrificed for us. We felt like it was the least we could do.
Lizze decided to break the silence and she walked up to him. What happened next was sadly consistent with what we have experienced our previous attempts at thanking someone for their service.
If I didn’t know any better, I would say that he was almost more afraid of us than anything he faced in war.Lizze explained to him that we just wanted to say thank you for his service and sacrifice to this country.
The look on his face was one of confusion and disbelief. It was like he had never been thanked before and wasn’t sure if this was some kind of prank.
Lizze asked him if it would be okay if we bought his lunch. He looked at her like it was some kind of joke. He said, are you serious, you don’t have to do that. Lizze explained that it wasn’t much, but we wanted to show our gratitude for his service.
He humbly accepted to our offer and I shook his hand. He thanked me and again stated that we didn’t have to do this, as he attempted to pay for his own lunch.
I told him, please man, it would be my honor to buy your lunch. You are the reason that my family is safe and for that I will always be grateful. This is just a small way of showing it.
He looked me in and eye and shook my hand. He said, if you’re sure…….than….thank you.
The woman behind the register smiled as I handed her my credit card. The silent servicemen once again shook my hand and thanked us. I told him it was an honor, our honor. I asked him to stay safe and we parted ways.
When I looked back over to my wife, her face, which usually shows only pain, had a smile that lit up the room.
I have to say that I hadn’t felt that good in a very long time.
While we honestly didn’t have the money to do this, it was an amazing experience and one that I wouldn’t change.
The reason I’m sharing this is because I want to issue a challenge to everyone. This doesn’t have to cost you a single penny but can still make a positive impact on someone’s life.
The next time you see one of our brave men or women in uniform, walk up to them and say thank you. I’ve spoke with some military families and they have told me that this almost never happens. More often than not, when someone approaches them, it’s to criticize them for what they do.
In my humble opinion, that’s as anti-american as I have ever seen. It’s disgusting, hateful and should have no place in our society. I can’t imagine why someone in the military gets defensive when approached by a citizen. Unbelievable……
The truth is, you don’t have to agree with or like the fact that we have been or are at war. You don’t have to like the fact that we are in Iraq or Afghanistan. You can think whatever you want about the policies or political motivation for military force.
That being said, you should have the utmost respect for our men and women in uniform as well as their families. They sacrifice everything to make sure that we are safe and that you have the right to walk up and criticize them for what they do for our country. These people lay their lives on the line, so that you can get up every morning, drink your cup of coffee and go to work.
Meanwhile, their families do their best to carry on without them for extended periods of time, not knowing if they will ever even return home. They do this so that you have the right to protest at their funerals and be-smirch them for their heroic and selfless actions.
Obviously, not everyone shares these awful opinions of our troops. There are probably many more people that support our troops than degrade them.
Having said that, those of us that are grateful for what our troops do for our country, should make it a point to let them know. We don’t do this because they are asking for or even expecting recognition. They don’t ask for anything in return for their service. Instead, we should do this because they deserve to be thanked. Their families deserve to be thanked.
Much like there are many ways that you could help a special needs family, I’m sure there are things you could do to show your support for our military families as well.
A simple thank you would be a really good place to start, don’t you think.
You don’t have to pay for their lunch. That would be nice gesture but not everyone can do that. To be completely honest with you, we did it, even though we weren’t in a position to and really shouldn’t have. At the moment, if felt like the right thing to do and still does. Lizze and I have no regrets.
I would imagine that the servicemen we met yesterday, was touched most by our appreciation and the fact that we went out of our way to say thank you, recognizing what both he and his family have sacrificed, than the fact that we bought him lunch.
Trust me, it’s not easy to walk up to a complete stranger and thank them but this is one of those times, where we should just suck it up and don’t he right thing.
Remember, every time you get to tuck your kids in bed at night, without fear, is due to people like this man, standing watch over us. They deserve better..
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