Sometimes Words Aren’t Enough

This evening my husband and I went grocery shopping at the only convenient full grocery store in our area. It is only about 3 miles from our home. Most everyone who works there knows us and we often run into friends and neighbors. It serves a large area of those who live around the southeast side of Lake Palestine. There are always a great many new faces each time we shop. Among those faces many are very friendly, as most Texans are, and will speak if your eyes meet, even if it’s just to say, “Hi.” Some will say a lot more and strike up a conversation that’s memorable.

Tonight was one of those times we met someone we didn’t know. He spoke to my husband first about beer consumption. He was joking when he said, “What time is the party?” as my husband put his purchase in the cart. I was busy looking at my list when I looked up to see his broad, handsome grin. I noticed he was in a powered wheelchair with an American flag and a black Army crest flag wrapped around poles which were about 3 feet above his head, mounted behind the seat. Then I saw a gold insignia of an Army infantry officer on his jacket. I looked down towards his legs and there were two artificial limbs. He had lost both legs. As the conversation broke and he was wheeling away, I said, “Thank you for your service.” He thanked me. But as he left I felt my words were just not enough. My mind began to perseverate on what would have had more meaning. Should I have said, “Thank you for my freedom?”, “Thank you for your sacrifice?”, I finally decided sometimes words just aren’t enough.

I’m old enough to have, and have had, loved ones and friends who served in Vietnam. It still breaks my heart how some in this country actually were waiting at airports to spit on them if they were seen in uniform coming home. I don’t believe many ever heard the words “Welcome home” from anyone outside their family until the last few years. Some famous people like “Hanoi Jane” (a.k.a. Jane Fonda) inflamed a rhetoric which spread like wildfire. But our government also had its share of guilt by the lies which were told to everyone including our disillusioned soldiers. Every male and female who served went there to serve honorably. A few lost their morals and their judgement because they learned the enemy was extremely hard to identify at times and witnessing the brutal loss of their “brothers” instilled an anger and hatred that got out of control. But those few did not represent the majority who gave all they could with dignity and honor. There are over 58,000 names on the Vietnam memorial wall. I have no idea how many suffered disabling injuries of body or mind. I’m sure the number is many times 6 digits.

Thank the Lord our society has changed. Even those who vehemently oppose war do not seem to disrespect those who protect us. I can’t think of one person I know that likes the thought of war, but the words, “Thank you for your service,” are heard frequently where I live. Most understand the stark reality there are those who hate America and seek to destroy her along with all democratic societies and even some that are not democratic. Their ideology has reached our mainland and caused horrific murder of innocents here starting with 9/11/2001. We depend on our men and women who bravely serve. I’m glad today we recognize them.

I’ll remember this happy, friendly veteran we met tonight for the warmth he exuded, despite his extreme injuries, for a long time. It will also help me remember those I love who have been through war and carry it always though they don’t show it. And when I remember, I’ll realize, while I sleep, there are thousands around the world tonight keeping me, my family, my friends, and America free and safe.

 

© copyright Dec 21, 2017…..Phyllis Rogers

 

 

Advertisements

5 Comments

  1. So many things you’ve said resonated in my mind as you spoke of the Vietnam Era (echoes of which I still can’t shake) and how people are today. I wish more were taught in our schools about the cost of our freedom or parents help pick up the slack by taking their children to museums instead of concerts or left to find their own entertainment.
    I hope the season brings you joy and and that it continues throughout the New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. I do not know details of your experience, but I do not know one vet that hasn’t lived a life burdened with PTSD in some form. My oldest son’s father came home in a catatonic state from paranoid schizophrenia. Most of his life once he left the VA hospital in Houston was as a homeless veteran. He would not take his medicines as he should have. He died at age 53 in 2000. I’ve wanted to write about him but even after all these years it is a little too painful.
      I want to thank you for your service, your sacrifice and my freedom. Still words aren’t enough. God Bless.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I do not wish to mislead, I did not serve. I was there as part of a press team and I can not cover Nam here on this site because of the (too) many friends I’ve lost. When I told my father I wanted to enlist, it was at the height of the war and it was the one and only time he put his foot down with a NO! He thought of the situation there was too much like the Philippines and I could read the pain on his face. He more and likely saved my life that day.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I believe that everything happens as it does for a reason. I agree that you most likely would have died over there and you name would be on that wall. God had other plans for you. Your bringing recognition to those who have served in other wars and their stories which may have never been told, may certainly be a part of that reason. Perhaps some day you will find a voice for those friends you lost. Perhaps one day I’ll find a Robby’s voice and tell his story, but I share your pain in the meantime.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s