Saturday, April 24, 2010
A Patriot's Act
Something interesting happened to me Thursday night in the bakery. I went to answer the ring of the bell that sits on our counter to signal that a customer needs service. There stands a tall, well-built gentleman in his late fifties to mid sixties who covers his salt and pepper hair with a ball cap that reads "Marines". He asks politely for some apple fritters. As I bag them up, I ask him, "Were you in the Marines?"
"Yes," he says softly.
"Well for what it's worth, a grateful citizen says thank you."
He looks at me for a half a minute in silence. "Why do you say that?"
"Because of you, I get to enjoy the freedoms I have." I hand him his doughnuts and he nods his thanks. I return to the back room where some ten dozen cupcakes are waiting to be iced and sprinkled. I just get my gloves back on when the bell rings again.
I go out and a woman is a step or two away from the counter and moves up quickly to get her sweets. Just as she opens her mouth, The old Marine walks back. "Pardon me," he says to the woman, "I just have a question." She nods and begins counting in her head how many Smiley cookies she is going to need.
He stands up straight, squares his shoulders, and looks me in the eye. "I've been out for forty years, and no one has ever said that to me. I've been spit on..." he trails off as something gets caught in his throat that my or may not be a bit of a sob. "Thanks," he mutters and moves away in some haste, as if a few old memories had come to mind. I hope they weren't bads ones.
If I haven't said it before, I'm saying it now. To that old Marine and all those who serve, a grateful citizen says thanks.