An average run to the grocery store the other day turned into anything but average. It was a gift that I will remember for the rest of my life.
I was trekking from my car to the doors of the store when I saw a gentleman of advanced age moving very slowly with his cane towards the store's entrance. As I stepped through the first set of sliding doors, I realized that I had to go back and ask him if I could be of any assistance.
I walked back outside and up to him. I asked him if I could help him get into the store. He declined my offer, and it was as he was speaking to me I noticed his cap said "WWII, Korea, Vietnam." I have seen many caps with one or two conflicts listed but never three so I asked, "Were you in all of those conflicts?" His answer was, "Yes, I was." WOW. Now comes the quandary: Should I leave him alone or walk and talk with him?
I obviously chose the latter.
As we walked, he told me about his experience in the Army in all the conflicts. He told me about his family, his four sons and his daughter. He told me about his wife of 65 years, the surprise birthday party thrown for him by his children and that his wife was turning 94 on Christmas Day. I told him about my dad and his service in WWII and his stories of being with the China Burma division. I told him about my children and my husband and what we were planning on doing for Memorial Day.
It took us 15 minutes to reach the sliding doors of the store, but in that 15 minutes, he told me his life story and I told him mine. When we parted ways, I said to him, "Thank you for your service," and he responded with, "You are welcome and thank you for talking to me." It was an amazing conversation with a man who had seen so much and who had dedicated his life to keeping our homeland safe. I call it my Memorial Day gift.
It’s just my opinion, but I don’t think we thank our military enough. They are doing a job that many of us wouldn’t even consider … me included. They proudly wear their caps that tell of their service, and when I see one, I will always say thank you.
So it’s Memorial Day. We all have plans, and we will have places to be and people to see as we enjoy our three-day holiday weekend. But as we are having fun with family and friends, take some time during the day to remember those who, as Abraham Lincoln said in his letter to Mrs. Bixby, "laid so costly a sacrifice upon the alter of freedom."
We owe them a debt of gratitude.
Carole Caine comes from Beloit, but is a 30-year media veteran in Milwaukee. Prior to joining OnMilwaukee as a features contributor, she served as half of the popular “Dave and Carole” morning show.
Now, Carole serves a number of roles in Milwaukee media. She’s a host at WVTV-18 and fills in on “The Morning Blend.” She is also doing voice work for several regional clients.
Carole, her husband and her dog live in Mequon.