By: Gina Kay Singerhouse
It was a day like any other, gloomy for this time of the year. Things for me haven’t been going all that well. Like many others, I too was burdened with money problems. To make things worse, my health was up in the air. As I walked into the hospital to have my blood tested, for only God knows what. I was walking in when I spotted an old man walking out. This man was like so many whom I’ve seen among the halls and waiting rooms of this hospital.
He was at least five feet and eight inches tall, however at one time he could have reached over six feet tall. He was skinny, but not too much to indicate he had not eaten in a while. His back was bent, from all the work he had done throughout his life. He had a warm jacket on and his jeans were creased, something that hasn’t been seen among the fashion world in nearly fifty odd years. His shoes were polished so that they revealed his bent old body in the reflection off his toes.
His head was bent as if he had received the worst news of his life. But it was upon his head that revealed the most about this man. He wore a black hat upon his gray hair. Embroidered on the front it said in yellow “World War II Veteran.” It all came into focus for me. Here is a man who has seen all the horrors of what evil can bring into this world. Here is a man who has walked miles in a foreign country, so far from family. Here was a man who made it through. Now sixty-eight years after the end of World War II, I was standing in front of this hero.
I stood tall and walked up to this man and said “Excuse me sir…”
“Yes…” he said in a startled way.
I extended my right hand to offer a handshake… “Thank you for serving.”
The man stood up as straight as he could. He smiled and said in a soft voice… “Thank you.”
I smiled as he took my hand and shook it with such a strong and firm shake that I was over whelmed by his strength.
“Where did you serve?” I asked.
“Bastogne. It was so cold.”
I stood there in shock. Not only was I standing in the presence of a hero, but here was a man who survived in one of the worst battles of World War II – the battle of the bulge.
To this day, I still kick myself for not offering that hero my business card so that I may schedule a day to interview him about his time during World War II. Everyday that I am out and about I look for this hero in hopes that I may have a second chance to offer my thanks of gratitude and take the time to hear his story.
There are so many days, when I am out and about running errands when I come across men and woman in uniform and men who wear hats like this man wore, I will go out of my way to say thanks for their service. In doing so, I have met one of our Nation’s first Navy Seals and I met a man who has seen almost every major event in World War II.
I grew up among heroes. Out of the twenty-two uncles that I have, half served in World War II and the other half served in the Korean War. My father served in the Korean War. Out of all of them, two are still living. I think of all the stories that they took to the grave with them. Many stories of survival, heroism, and of returning home to build up our great nation; what they could have told us could have helped us in the future. Majority of their stories are gone, gone to the grave with them.
This day is not just a day. This day is for them, for the Veterans who were willing to give a portion of their lives and even willing to die for our freedoms. Freedoms that many of us take for granted and often abuse.
A friend just posted on Facebook a great quote from Red Green… “There are three categories of people when it comes to putting their lives on the line. People who wouldn’t, people who would, and people who do. Today is for the people who do. Thank You.” An appropriate quote for this day. Please take the time to go out of your way to say ‘Thank You.’ You don’t have to buy them anything but a handshake and a word or two of thanks.
I often think about the profession that I am in; we in the country music industry should be the biggest supporters of our Nation’s Military and Veterans. We are the ones who truly use our freedom of speech and many of us abuse it. Country music new comer Lucas Hoge wrote and recorded a powerful song as a word of thanks. The song “Medal of Honor” says it this entire Veteran’s Day, please turn up your volumes and take a listen…
From the bottom of my heart, I extend my hand and heart in a word of “Thank you for your service.”