I spent this past weekend with my parents down in Indy. It was Drum Corps International’s Championship weekend and since I was 9, we’ve gone every year (with a few exceptions). A new tradition incorporated into the finals within the past few years is a performance by the USMC’s Drum & Bugle Corps which my dad is adamant about never missing. He also enjoys stopping by the Marine Corps booth in the marketplace. I think part of the joy he gets is watching wayward people try to do pull ups (let’s be honest, who wouldn’t be entertained by that) and reminiscing. And he loves to talk to the Marines working the booth! For some reason, this always makes me feel a little sad because the young Marines probably get tired of hearing from the older Marines about their days and sometimes, their patience seems to wear thin. To be fair, I’m sure my patience would wear thin too: I get frustrated when the older people at work lament about the good old days of banking (I’m not sure exactly when that was but apparently compared to today’s environment, they were great times). So I always want to say something to these young Marines along the lines of “Be nice, because someday, this is going to be you!” but I always end up not saying anything and just feeling sad. However, this year, I didn’t end up feeling that way for long…
It’s not often I get to see my parents as something other than they are but this weekend something happened that made me once again realize they are human beings who once had lives all their own that had nothing to do with me, my sister, or their grandkids. It’s on Finals Saturday that the USMC Drum & Bugle Corps plays. This year, they added a parade and at the end, they gathered all the corps kids together on the Mall and 2000+ brass played “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”. My dad happened to be wearing his “Marines” baseball cap and a polo shirt with the Marine Corps emblem surrounded by the phrase “Once a Marine, Always a Marine”. One younger Marine (well, younger than my dad but older than me I’m happy to report) saw my dad and walked up to him and they exchanged the usual Marine Corps greeting (“Semper Fi”). The guy seemed really nice and as my dad was turning away to talk to my mom and I, this lady came up to him and said “Thank you for your service! My brother was a Marine also and I know a little about what you go through and I just wanted to say ‘Thank you'”. I’m not sure why I was surprised other than it seemed strange someone was thanking my dad. Then all of a sudden, my mom says “That was nice, you should always thank the people in the service, remember that”. Well, I was shocked because my mom almost never talks about war, the military, etc. I was left wondering who these people are standing next to me because they looked like my parents but they also looked like, I don’t know, normal people? It dawned on me at that moment two things: I’m very proud of both my parents (which I told them: based on their shocked responses, I don’t think I do this often enough); and two, I wish I weren’t so socially awkward so I could be more like this woman.
It’s hard for me to walk up to complete strangers in general but hard for me to say “Thank You” to them so I really admired this lady for doing it. My way is to say a prayer for the soldiers I see, regardless of where they may be going (back for tour, entering civilian life) and that makes me feel a little better knowing that there’s one more person saying a prayer for their well-being. I hope in some way all our service members could know just how many people they touch just by being in uniform or shirts with their branch’s emblem on it.
So an especially large “THANK YOU!!!” to all the service men and women, past and present, for doing all that you do – it doesn’t go unnoticed and definitely is greatly appreciated!!