Recently a longtime friend passed away. He was 93 years old. I first met him in 1965 at North Carolina State University where he was an English professor and I was a freshman taking English class. He lived in Charleston and so he would give me rides back and forth at holiday time. We had lots of good conversations on those rides and stayed in touch over the years.
While reading his obituary, I was very surprised to learn that he was a World War II veteran who had been seriously wounded in action in Europe. He had never mentioned his service to our country, and I never thought to ask. I bet he had some great stories about the war. I regret not raising the topic.
My friend was a very typical veteran in that most veterans do not talk about their time in uniform. A veteran does his/her duty, thinks nothing of it, and unless you ask them, they say nothing. And that is a shame because they have so much insight and life experiences to share with others.
This Veterans Day, be sure to call and thank a vet for his or her service. And go beyond that simple thank you. Ask them to share an experience with you. You might be surprised at the tales you will hear. And I bet the veteran will be delighted to know you care.
We all owe our veterans so much. And it was great to see the 60 Minutes program Sunday night – a conversation with the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs – Bob McDonald and his resolve to fix the VA Hospital crisis. The Secretary is a veteran himself and former CEO of Proctor and Gamble. It sounds like he will get this job done!!