“Did you serve?” the girl asked.
The orchestra had just finished playing patriotic music at the July 3 observance of Independence Day, and my wife and I were gathering up our things from the lawn of the fairgrounds.
For a moment, I didn’t know what she was talking about. Then I realized it was because I was among those armed service veterans called to their feet as theme music for the various branches of the military was played.
“Yes,” I answered, looking down at her – perhaps in the sixth or seventh grade in school.
“Thank you for protecting us,” she said, hugging me and slipping away into the darkness.
I’ve never been more honored.
And I wish there were a way I could share that moment with people like my college roommate, Roy C. Fields, who’s still undergoing treatment for a life-threatening leg wound he suffered while flying a spotter plane in Vietnam.
Or, with our friend Bart Van Sickle, whose exposure to “Agent Orange” herbicide in that same war probably caused the Lou Gehrig’s disease that’s slowly claiming his life. Or with the thousands of servicemen and women who have taken their own lives in the aftermath of combat in the service of their country. I salute you.