Thank you, veterans

This morning, we met my parents for breakfast at the local American Legion post. Even though we’ve been living back in town for over a year, Philip and I had not gone to the monthly breakfasts before September. We missed the Sons of the American Legion event on the first Sunday in October since Philip was still sick, but we went last week.

Therefore, the breakfast is a fairly new activity for Philip, but he has done well so far. I can always count on Philip to eat bacon if we go somewhere to eat. If I’m lucky, he’ll also eat eggs (using a fork, as shown in the picture, is a bonus) and maybe he’ll nibble on toast. After we eat, I make sure that Philip has something to keep him occupied. Last week it was a cow fidget toy.

Eating breakfast last week. We weren’t there long enough to get a picture today.

This morning’s breakfast was held in honor of Veteran’s Day. All veterans were invited to eat for free. The breakfasts are open to the public, but my dad is a member. Since he served in the Army during the Vietnam War, his meal was free.

We all had our plates filled with the foods of our choice. Philip was eating scrambled eggs and bacon. The diaper bag was full of toys for Philip to play with when he was done.

A woman my parents know stopped by our table to chat.  Based on the conversation, I figured out that her husband must also be a member and a veteran. He was to be a part of the flag ceremony later in the morning. Before she left, she turned to my dad and said, “Thank you.”

It was about that time that Philip decided he was done. Not just done eating, but done being there. He climbed out of his chair and made as if to go toward the exit. I think he knew where to go since we had just been there last week. I picked him up and put him back in his chair, reaching for toys in the diaper bag. He reached for his coat. He wanted to leave.

Grandma picked up Philip and held him in her lap while I tried to finish my breakfast. I could tell that Philip would not be appeased and would only become louder the longer I took to eat. I shoved in one more bit of omelet, said a quick hello to my aunt who was just arriving and then granted Philip his wish: we left.

A member who was on his way in held the door for us. I thanked him for this courtesy. I saw other veterans arriving in the parking lot. There had been many eating breakfast inside.

I didn’t thank any of them for their service.

I really admired the woman who thanked my dad. She didn’t seem self-conscious. She expressed her gratitude without hesitation.

It’s not that I don’t admire or respect veterans. Not only is my father a vet, both of my grandfathers served in World War II. My husband was in the Marines for thirteen years during peacetime before a medical issue forced him to leave. From the stories of these men, I’ve had a small glimpse at the sacrifices one makes to serve one’s country. Based on my limited second-hand knowledge, I’m well aware that I have lacked the self-discipline and courage needed to serve in the military myself.

However, I wish I had shown a little backbone this morning. It would have taken only a few seconds to thank some of those men in person. Sure, I can write a bunch of words here today, but I regret that I wasn’t just a little braver to speak the words out loud in person.

Thank you.

Thank you for  your service.

Thank you for giving of your time.

Thank you for defending our country.

Thank you for doing your part.

Thank you for fighting for my freedom.

Thank you.

If I were a real coward, I would blame it all on Philip. Oh, I didn’t have time. He didn’t give me a chance. I didn’t want to make him wait.

I have a little more courage than to try to blame anyone but myself. However, I need to get braver so that the next I have the opportunity to thank a veteran, I will take advantage of it. Because not only do I need to show gratitude, I need to model it to my son.

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