Nearly every Saturday morning before sunrise, John and I pile our fly rods and assorted gear into Greeny, his “skinny water” boat and head out for the Indian River Lagoon. There is one stop made at a convenience store for ice and two cups of coffee. Typically, the parking lot, illuminated by intense lighting in the pump canopy, is empty. On more than one occasion though, there has been an old, beat up, white Chevy van sitting in front of the entrance. The van would simply blend into the background of any image if it wasn’t for a bumper sticker with an incredibly profound message.
No words could express the meaning contained in the three vertical red stripes and the green borders set on a yellow background. I cannot look at that simple image without a wealth of emotions rising up inside of me.
Continuing inside the store, the owner of the van was immediately identifiable. Tall and thin with longish grey hair protruding from a baseball cap, he carried his slightly bent body with dignity. His jeans, tee-shirt, and rough-hewn hands immediately identified him as a working man. His eyes, although clear, were deep and penetrating. They were the eyes of someone who had seen too much. When they met mine, I struggled to get out the words that came directly from my heart: “Thank you for your service.”
As we approach the summer season with excitement and anticipation, take a moment to reflect upon those who made incredible sacrifices in order to protect and preserve the lives we cherish. Cemeteries throughout the world are filled with the noble remains of those who gave their lives for you and me, for our sons and daughters, for our way of life. Our streets, our communities are filled with those who bear the memories of battles fought, lives lost, and sorrow felt in distant lands.
Let us all reach out and humbly say, “Thank you for your service.”