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Thank you for your service

I noticed the man several times as I made my way up and down the grocery store aisles. Old jeans, faded red t-shirt, thinning white hair. He was shopping alone, and I overheard him asking other customers for help finding things a few times. As I walked past the shelves of sports drinks, I heard him ask a lady about the difference between some of the brands.

“I know it’s a stupid question,” he said. “My wife usually does the shopping, but she just had surgery and our granddaughter is coming to visit so I need to buy the groceries.”

What a sweet man, I thought, and kept adding things to my own cart. When I was ready to check out, I looked for the shortest line — and ended up behind him.

As he turned to pull groceries from his cart, I saw what filled the front of his t-shirt: a gold U.S. Marines emblem the size of a dinner plate.

I am proud to be an American and am so thankful to live here. For years, I’ve sent up silent prayers for servicemen and women I happen to cross paths with. I’ve often thought I should thank them for what they do but — for whatever reason — have always shied away.

Until that Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago in our local Kroger.

One time when the man turned back to get more groceries, he glanced back at me and our eyes met. “Sir, were you in the Marines?” I asked.

He straightened and gave me a small smile and nod. “Yes, I was.”

I smiled back. “Thank you for your service.”

He stared at me, then smiled wider and I saw tears in his eyes. “Thank you. Thank you for saying that.”

He kept putting his groceries on the conveyor belt and finished checking out. Just before leaving, he turned to me. “Thank you again. God bless you, ma’am.”

No, I thought as I watched him leave, God bless you.

Thank you for your service.

I never imagined how much those simple words might impact someone. I definitely didn’t imagine that saying them would bring tears to the other person’s eyes.

I don’t know when that man was in the Marines or where he was stationed or what kinds of things he saw or did. What I do know is that he was willing to risk his life to defend America, if needed. He was willing to make the biggest sacrifice possible, if needed — and that’s the biggest gift you can give.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13 NIV)

Veterans Day here in the U.S. is Nov. 11, the anniversary of the signing of the armistice between Germany and the Allied nations that ended World War I. It took place on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, which is why many ceremonies held on Nov. 11 are at 11 a.m. and include a moment of silence at 11:11 a.m.

I’m so thankful for all the men and women who have been willing to serve our country and do what they can to protect it.

Thank you for your service.

Such ordinary words, but they can mean so much when they’re heartfelt. I need to say them more often; will you join me?

 

“Thank you for your service.” Such ordinary words, but they can mean so much when they’re heartfelt. #VeteransDay Click To Tweet