Had a, well, I’m honestly not sure how to describe it. Anyway, this happened to me at work today.
I was working Kosher when I noticed an older gentleman get in line at the Seafood counter, right next door to me. He was literally right next to my department. Anyway, what grabbed my attention was the fact that he was wearing a Korean War Veteran cap. I had rare moment where nothing vital needed to be done right away, so I took my gloves off, thanked the vet for his service and his sacrifice, and shook his hand.
At first, he tried to shrug it off, or at least downplay it. “That was a long time ago,” he said.
“It’s still relevant today, sir,” I told him, “It still matters.”
The instant the words left my mouth, the man’s demeanor changed. I don’t know exactly how to describe it: he was still smiling, but the look in his eye changed. They were filled with pain, sadness, grief.
“I still carry it with me,” he said. He held his hands over his heart, “I still carry it here.”
“I know it, sir,” I told him, “I know it, and I’m sorry.” At this point, I think we were both on the verge of breaking down in tears. I know I was. All I could think to say after that was “Thank you, again. Thank you so much.” I wanted to say, “I can’t describe how much I appreciate it,” but my words caught in my throat. I guess that was just as well, since by then he was at the front of his line and I finally had a customer in mine.
It didn’t occur to me until hours later that I never even thought to ask the man his name.
Even so, I meant what I said. His service to this country his sacrifice, for its people, even though it happened over sixty years ago, is still relevant. It still matters today. The same is true of all our veterans: from World War II to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, all of our veterans’ service and sacrifice are relevant. They still matter.
Never forget that. And never forget them.