I just read a friend's blog. He wrote about the importance of remembering why we celebrate the 4th and to support the troops no matter what our opinion is of the war.
That brought to my mind a conversation I had with my brother, Claude, who served two tours in Vietnam. We spoke about the importance of never missing an opportunity to thank the young men and women who return from serving in the Middle East or who serve our country here at home.
We sat there on my patio in the dusky light and my brother got this far off look in his eye. I asked him, "What are you thinking about?"
"About how different things were whan I returned from Vietnam. We were treated like the enemy. When my buddies and I walked through airports, people lined up cursing us, throwing stuff at us, calling us baby killers." He wiped his eye with his sleeve and his voice broke a little. "They had no idea what they were saying. "Baby killers? The Viet Cong would strap live grenades to their infants and throw them to a U.S. soldier knowing he wouldn't let the baby drop to the ground even if it meant imminet death. How many of those people calling us baby killers do you think have seen their friends blown to pieces trying to save a baby?
"Not many." Then I asked my brother what I could do to help begin healing the wounded hearts of the Vietnam Vets.
"Walk up to them and shake their hand. Then say, 'Welcome home soldier, thank you.'"
Since that evening, that's what I have done whenever I learn someone is a Korean or Vietnam Vet. The response I usually get is a look of shock, and then tears form in their eyes.
This 4th, I encourage all of you to follow my brother's suggestion. It's never too late to express gratitude.