Since I married my Soldier a little over 6 years ago, I've had lots of opportunities to be proud. Some of them I've talked about here and some I haven't even touched on.
One came tonight at dinner when Nick told a story of something that happened on his way to school this morning.
Let me preface this by giving a little history. In late May 2009 Nick was deployed to Mosul, Iraq. He was due home at the end of May for his mid-tour R&R which would be at the same time as Callie's high school graduation. I was counting down the days and was ready to welcome my Soldier home. Very early Monday morning (Memorial Day, and he was supposed to leave the following day) my phone rang. I was still sleeping so it was around 6:00 AM. I could tell it was Nick calling from Iraq because of what was on my caller ID. It was very early for him to call. As I answered the phone, he asked if I had heard from anyone from the Army yet. My first thought was oh heck no, they are not messing up his leave and making him miss Callie's graduation. I answered no, that I had not heard from anyone. He then told me that his vehicle had been blown up several hours earlier. Now this was one of those times when in seconds you have 30 minutes of thoughts. I was thinking... I'm talking to him, he must be ok. So I asked a very wise question. "Were you in it?" He said, "Yes! I was in it!" Then I lost it. I knew he was ok but I knew he had come close to not being ok and I couldn't get past that for a few minutes. I was crying and he was reassuring me. He did hurt his back. The vehicle rolled over after the blast and the body armor along with the way he was harnessed into the vehicle (all of which saved his life) put a wicked twist on his back and gave him quite an injury. The driver was hurt badly as was the gunner, who sits atop the vehicle in the turret.
Anyway, because of this injury, my husband received a Purple Heart. Because of that Purple Heart, he has free license plates here in the state of Rhode Island that say "Purple Heart Recipient"
Back to today.
This morning on his way to work, he noticed a vehicle following closely behind him. He's not patient with these kinds of things, maybe because of the incident in Iraq, he feels closed in. He was just wondering what was wrong with this guy, when the truck starts to pass him. As he gets closer, Nick notices a United States Marine sticker on the truck. As it pulls up beside him, the guy driving the Marine stickered truck honks his horn. When Nick looked over, he saw a man that looked to be in his 70s. The driver of that truck popped off a very formal salute to Nick. At this point during the story, I teared up. Alex asked his dad, "What did you do when he saluted you?" Nick didn't say anything, but raised his right hand up to his brow and saluted and said I told him thank you"
My husband is an officer. A former battalion commander. I've seen him saluted many, many times. Never have I been so proud of a salute. It always touches me when someone recognizes the service my husband has given, but when a veteran of the Viet Nam war era gives him that kind of respect it really does something to me.
It's a brotherhood that I will probably never completely understand.
I appreciate everyone that has served. My salute doesn't mean anything, but I do give it to all who have and continue to serve.