Here is a post I drafted last August and didn’t finish until now…
On a (not so anymore lol) recent flight I took, I sat in a row of three seats with a Marine and Navy man, two young retired U.S servicemen, not much older than me. They didn’t know each and I didn’t know them but boy was I honored for the experience.
Man did I hear some powerful stories.
This BETTER NOT be news to you but there are very real humans fighting and serving all over the world.
I know many men and women on active duty and many veterans. It is a unique role to be in and a special position to take on for those who join the military. My dad is a veteran, honored to have served and I love him dearly for it.
Back in my window seat, I heard many of their graphic stories – one a more animated storyteller than the other.
I heard of an experience in Fallujah —
A guy shot in the head and a bullet ricocheted off his helmet and left a dent this soldier could put his hand in. I was shocked by how casually he spoke about it. Obviously I know nothing of the front lines of war. I have watched my share of documentaries, read my share of personal stories and heard my share of experiences from individuals all over the world. I remain in awe every time still.
Something else very fascinating they mentioned in agreement which I had never heard… When people say “Thank you for your service” or “I appreciate your service,” while those words never go unappreciated, they said… when they come from someone who hasn’t been on a battlefield, they can’t really know. They don’t really know what it takes. What it’s like.
That struck me. I, for one, have never been on an active battefield.
I happen to believe things happen for a reason. Of all the flights, of all the seats I landed there and so did these guys. As I said before, they did not know one another. They had different ethnic backgrounds, different religions, different experiences. Neither wore a uniform. But they recognized something in each other and spent the entire flight sharing with one another about it.
To them it was special because though different military branches, they each have a level of understanding that I for one will never have even though I fully support the men and women who give of their time and lives to do what they do.
These men talked about their lives now, the struggles they face, the PTSD and how they survive millions of miles away from the battlefield. One, encouraged the other through his faith. The other, resistant but respectful while hearing what worked well for his new friend.
Though I don’t stand in their shoes and I haven’t seen or done what they have firsthand, I am grateful for them anyhow. I am thankful and grateful beyond holidays that remind us to remember to have gratitude and show care or kindness. I am glad I chose that seat near the rear of the plane, for I will forever remember that experience.
Finally a request to any employer… hire veterans. A request to regular citizens… remember to treat all veterans and our servicemen and servicewomen with respect both when they return home and while they serve. It breaks my whole heart that there are people who served and don’t have proper access to healthcare, housing, food, mental health services and many other resources or support they may truly need. I hope that changes in my lifetime.
I personally don’t care much for war but that doesn’t stop war from happening so while I pray more that true peace can exist worldwide, I will do another thing that feels like my part. I have and will continue to fully support the people who honor the role, the duty and our country with their sacrifice.