A Veteran's Story
I noticed Bill sitting in our local park where I walk. He glanced my way just as I finished the last exercise walk song on my playlist. He shouted and pointed to my car: “Hey, is that your car with the Nam front license plate?
I stepped closer into the veranda where Bill sat on a picnic bench. I noticed his Vietnam Vet cap and instantly I knew why I walked there that day. The Marine Vet served during the 1960’s, the same time span as my husband. Bill talked a lot about the war evoking my emotions from laughter to tears. My South Vietnam front plate often prompts a conversation with a stranger and I’ve learned a deep respect for it over the years. It is my way of listening to a veteran. I enjoyed listening to Bill. He made me laugh in spots but he made me cry as well. Like when he talked about the sandwich lady.
“Do you ever eat at the sandwich shop in the gas station down the street?” I replied that I’ve order coffee once in that place with a turkey combo on Panini bread.
Bill frequently patronizes the place. He knows the sandwich lady by name. Mai was born in Vietnam but now lives in the United States. Mai carefully prepares Bill’s sandwiches to his requests. They’ve become friends. I’m glad Bill told me the story of how he met Mai in the sandwich shop. I needed a good cry.
I imagined Bill kicking up a conversation with Mai easily like he did with me. He’s a good story teller with surprising details and punch lines. I listened carefully as Bill described unbelievable sorrow Mai faced in Vietnam. She watched as American soldiers slaughtered both of her brothers right before her eyes. I asked Bill, “How on earth, Bill, did you a US veteran soldier respond to her confession of such pain?” Bill replied: “I hugged her! We both wept in each other’s arms.”
As I write this, I remember the word from the Lord I received this year: Restoration! I live in a small town easily overlooked on a map. Isn’t it amazing how big God is? He knows the least of us in the middle of nowhere, Arizona. He knows the struggling waitress serving sandwiches as well as the tired old Vet with stories of horror and killing. I see, today, that He makes good on His promise to restore all of us. I expect to see restoration like this everywhere I look this year.
I share this story as we in the U.S. celebrate Veteran’s Day in a few days, November 11th. We set aside a day to honor our men and women who sacrificed so much for our freedom. Some of them endure sleepless nights so we can live in peace. Our war veterans live with pain both physical and mental. These heroes took an oath to protect us and they deserve our thanks.
God, bless our veterans.
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.” Psalm 51:12