When I went to the State Fair last month I walked through the Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial set up just inside Fair Park. I was looking at all the names etched into the granite walls and found a couple with my last name. I don't think we are related but I stood there thinking about all those names and the men they represent. Evidently, during the fair, they have a couple men there to answer questions and help people find certain names. As I was standing at the wall staring at the names a man in a "Vietnam Veteran" hat came up and quietly asked if I had any names on the wall.
"Excuse me?", I asked.
"Do you have loved ones on the wall?"
"No, sir", was all I managed to get out.
He then simply said, "Thank you for coming by."
I shook his hand with both of mine but wasn't able to say anything for the huge lump in my throat and that lump comes back as I write this. I wanted to tell him how much I appreciated his service. I wanted to say some grand "Thank You!" with a long speech about how we all owe him and all veterans a huge debt but all I could do was shake his hand. I think he understood.
I was very humbled today to welcome home a plane-load of troops at the airport this morning. Again, I was unable to thank each one or give them all gifts or make any speeches but I was able to cheer some and clap until my hands hurt as did a huge group of others. The troops were obviously very glad to be back and very appreciative of our presence there and while I can't say to each one how much I appreciate their sacrifice, I think, I hope they too understand.