Once upon a time there was a girl. She came of age when the moon was in the 7th house and Jupiter aligned with Mars. Instead of wearing flowers in her hair, and protesting the Vietnam War the girl followed all the rules. She married a man who flew helicopters in the Navy and soon had babies. The girl's husband spent the war years flying anti-submarine missions from bases on the East Coast of America. Pilots stationed on the West Coast flew combat missions over SE Asia. SE Asia was a long way from the girl and her family. No one she knew was ever sent into harm’s way.
From an early age, the girl knew what it meant to be proud to be an American. She always stood when the flag passed by, and covered her heart during the National Anthem. But she was silent when men came home from an unpopular war, wounded in body and spirit, let down by the people they served. Her eyes were opened one day when she met a man her husband went to school with. The man was in the army. He took of his shirt at the beach and his chest was covered in scars. He’d served in Vietnam while her husband drank beers in Naples. For the first time she realized how lucky they’d been.
Forty years have gone by but a war still rages. This time men and women are fighting in the desert instead of the jungle. There are new kinds of weapons, computers and cell phones. “Wounded Warriors” come home to a hero's welcome. They march in parades. They are buried with military honors. Even as Americans have learned to “support their troops” many a Nam Vet sleeps on the sidewalk and continues to fight demons only other Vets can see.
One day the girl heard a woman say her son had been in the Emergency Room of a local hospital for hours, laying on a gurney in the hall, with no covers. “My son,” said the woman, "fought in Vietnam."
When the girl heard this, she knew what she had to do. It was time now, after all these years, to say what she didn’t say then. She needed to say thank you to someone she didn’t even know, for doing what his country asked of him in a time when that kind of thing wasn’t very popular.
So the girl pulled out all her red, white and blue fabric. She cut, and pinned and sewed, and stuffed until she had, not only a big mess in her dining room, but a cover for the man the next time he had to go to the hospital.
“Thank you,” said the man’s mother. “He didn’t think anyone cared.”
“Thank him,” said the girl. “I care.”
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There is no statute of limitations on gratitude. Today we honor all those who have answered their country's call to service. May I be so bold as to ask you to put your hands together and say a prayer for the safety, well-being and comfort of all the men and women who put their lives on the line to defend the freedoms this country was founded on. And don't wait, next time you see someone in uniform say "Thank You." You'll be glad you did.
Wishing for you a world at peace,