Updated: Nov 8, 2018
A young soldier climbs into a bed in a semi-private room in a military hospital in San Antonio, Texas. He is in obvious pain, struggling to get comfortable as his wife and children help arrange things around his portion of the room. He is a hero. A veteran of six tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. A special forces warrior - member of Delta Force. His external wounds have healed, but he continues to suffer from spinal problems and PTSD.
I am privileged to meet him and family. Hearing them speak of his experiences in combat is chilling. But even more it causes ones heart to swell with pride and thankfulness for this young mans bravery and willingness to place his life in danger to keep our lives safe.
As he tried to settle in and get some rest he can't help but see a constant flow of medical personal moving back and forth from his roommates side of the room. He catches wind of what is happening across the room when he hears the 101 year old roommate speak up (he is hard of hearing) to respond to the crowd around him.
The older soldier is a retired army Colonel. A West Point graduate from the Class of 1939. He fought he WWII and in the Vietnam War. He was an artillery commander in the Third Army and served under General George Patton. He was General Westmoreland's Chief of Staff during his tour in Vietnam in the mid 60's. He received two Bronze Star Medals - one for his valor at the Battle of the Bulge, and the other for the battle of the Rhine Valley. He is being treated for a mild stroke and may require further treatment at a rehab center. The doctors have been speaking with family members about his immediate needs - anticipating that he will decline in the next several weeks and most likely pass.
During his hospital stay he has become a favorite among member of the personnel. He is a living representative of history - of "The Old Army." Over and over again he is thanked for his service by fellow service members.
At a quiet moment in the room, the young soldier struggles out of his bed and pulls back the curtain that separates their two beds. He too wants to see history, I thought. But he wanted to express more. He reached out to the old veteran with both hands. When their hands met tears began to flow from his eyes as he tried to speak. He said, "You are the reason why I serve. You are my inspiration." Shocked but notably moved the old veteran embraced the young veteran and thanked him for his service and sacrifice. He responded with a simple, "Just doing my job."
The young soldier turned to me and said, "Your father is the real McCoy and he is an inspiration to all of us to serve and defend this country."
On that day I witnessed America's finest from the past and present embrace. Honor and respect flowed from one to the other as tears flowed from both of them and not a word was spoken. Words were not necessary - the embrace told it all.
The Armed Forces of this great land are the finest in the world and have been for generations. Men and women boldly defend this nation with their lives everyday so that we all may enjoy freedom. A freedom that did not cost money, but blood and guts of true patriots. The sacrifices of our veterans is immeasurable. The losses that they have incurred so that we may enjoy gain is unfathomable.
The Bible tells us to "give honor to where honor is due."
Honor a Soldier this Veterans Day - they deserve it and much, much more.