I always write a note to my staff at C. T. Lowndes & Company about Memorial Day, urging all to pause a moment to remember those who have fallen in defense of our great country. This year’s note had a more intimate tone due to a personal experience.
My wife and I recently traveled to France for a river cruise from Nice to Dijon. We had a marvelous time. It was a very interesting experience as I had never been to France before.
Our trip was with Vantage World Travel, based out of Boston. Vantage had set aside 10 cabins on the ship (that is about 10% of the total cabins) for use by veterans who had been selected for the trip by the Wounded Warriors organization. Vantage did not charge these folks. The trip was given in appreciation of their service to our country and to show that someone does care.
One middle age couple had lost their son in Afghanistan last September. The conversation I had with him was both heartening and difficult. What does one say? I learned it is more important just to listen.
One young man, former Marine, had lost both legs and obviously had a head wound. He was struggling but the trip had a very positive impact on him and his pregnant wife. In the beginning, he was in his wheelchair most of the time. By trip’s end, he was walking most of the time.
Another young Marine had also lost his legs. His outlook on life was simple – “I am alive.” One day his wife told us, very emotionally, that particular date was the second anniversary of her receiving “the phone call”. This former marine, when he found out I was a Vietnam veteran, gave me the biggest hug, and through tears told me how sorry he was for the treatment the Vietnam vets received when they came home! I was speechless and teary eyed as well.
All were immensely appreciative of the love and support shown them by the other passengers and crew. Everyone on that ship is a better person today due to the experience.
God bless Mr. & Mrs. Lewis, owners of Vantage Travel.