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Monday, June 30, 2008

It’s all Relative

Last week I took a trip to visit friends. It has been a while since I last traveled (and I can say that is a first for about the last ten years). I flew through Memphis both ways. On the return trip, I had an interesting experience. I went to the airport-supplied-really-expensive-and-risky-to-eat food trough so thoughtfully allowed by the airport to hawk its wares, and struck up a conversation with a young man. Now, this wasn't just any young man. Standing behind him, I noticed he had dog-tags, had a tightly shaved head, and sported desert combat boots. These are not run-of-the-mill REI weekend warrior type boots and his were worn well. Otherwise, he was garbed in civilian clothes.

It was obvious he was in the service. I lived in Washington DC for about 4 years working for a program management company that did plenty of DOD work and learned a thing or two about the military. I am not an expert, but I know the average recruit joining the armed service is hardly swimming in money.

So, I tapped him on the shoulder and asked him if I could buy him lunch. Actually, I insisted. I am not a fan of the current war or any war, for that matter; but these young people deserve our attention—and our support. We may not agree with our government's policies in every case, but I think those wearing the uniform deserve absolute respect.

We stood there in line for just a few moments, talking about what he had been through. He had just spent six months in Africa protecting aide workers delivering food and medicine to the local population. As it turned out, this young man is a Marine. There is no way to understand the Marine viewpoint unless you are one, but I have friends and family that are or were in the Marine Corp, and I can tell you they are hard core; yet, this young man never fired a shot in anger—he simply enabled those in need to get the help they so desperately require. I asked him if he had been to Iraq and he said "no, nobody's been shot for me to replace." Wow.

Interestingly, this young man had a newly purchased book tucked under his arm that was a current events book (obviously written before Hillary conceded) contrasting Clinton against McCain. I had to ask…

"So, who are you voting for in this election?" I asked nonchalantly.

"McCain, because he will fund the [insert explicative] out of me and my guys…" He responded with obvious passion.

Well, what can you say to that? Things are mostly relative to one's own viewpoint. I am by no means a wealthy person but I am healthy, I have a great family, and I earn a good living. This young man is laying his life on the line every day because his country asked him to (let's not forget that the American military is entirely voluntary). He has to do it poor, scared, and dirty most of the time.

Buying him lunch was the best ten dollars I have spent in a long time.

Young Marine, if you are out there reading this, realize that there are many of us that don't support the war, but we will always be faithful to you—after all, that is what Semper Fi means.



1 comment :

Anonymous said...

It all comes down to the individual, doesn't it. Every time. You made me think Colby.


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