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Tue Apr 27, 2010 3:13 pm

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The other day I was walking into the local Wal-Mart store when I noticed an older man walking beside a younger man. The younger man was wearing army fatigues.

I was curious so I stopped and asked, "Excuse me young man, but I was just wondering if you were in the service or are you just wearing fatigues?"

The young man stated that he was really in the army and then his Dad added in a strong voice that was filled with pride, "This is my son and he has just returned from his second tour in Iraq."

I told him how glad I was that he had returned home safely and then I said, "Young man, I would like to do something for you that no one outside of my family did for me when I returned home from serving in Viet Nam."

"What is that?" he asked.

"I'd be proud to welcome you home by shaking your hand if I might and say thank you for your service to our country," I said as I held out my hand.

The young soldier and his Dad both stood a little taller as the young man stuck out his hand which I readily grasped and we just stood there, the three of us, with our right hands joined. We were three strangers drawn together by a common bond, we all understood, not needing to say anything more.

After nodding to each other, I started to break the grasp and walk away but the young soldier seemed to have something on his mind as he hesitated, and then he stopped me before I could move. He was quiet for a moment and then he looked me straight in the eye and then he ever so clearly uttered the words, "Thank you. . . and . . . Welcome Home".

We then parted company as we went our separate ways. I finished buying the supplies I needed, walked on home, and oh yeah - I cried.

(Anonymous Viet Nam Veteran)

We often forget to be thankful to those who serve our country, protect us from terrorism, and preserve our freedom. We have veterans living today that have served us in WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, and The Persian Gulf. We have those on active duty who are serving our country right now in Iraq as well as other places around the world.

Today the average age of a WWII Veteran is 81; we are quickly losing them from the battlefield of life. They are now leaving us at the rate of 1500 per day. I see many of them carrying our flag in parades and participating in military funerals. They tell me the veteran's organizations need more veterans to help them with these duties now. This is due to the failing health and the deaths of most of the WWII veterans who have kept these organizations alive with their unswerving dedication and patriotism. Perhaps it's time we expressed appreciation with a card or a phone call to someone we know personally while there's still time. It shouldn't have to be Memorial Day or Veteran's Day for us to be appreciative toward all of our veterans no matter where they served. The point is that they served and gave of themselves that we might live in freedom.

We can also show our appreciation to those serving us right now by writing letters, sending e-mails, or sending packages to our soldiers. *Today is a good day to be grateful, there's no time like the present and it's the only time that we have for certain. When we see or hear of a soldier coming home from war, most important of all, let's remember to give them a heartfelt, "Thank you . . . and . . . Welcome Home!"


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