“I Was On The Beach”

Guess what I did today?

Whatever I wanted.

This point was brought home to me today courtesy of a chance encounter.

I went to do a little martial arts tonight.

On my way home I decided to get a little dinner.  Subway.  Perfect.  Only one car there.  Get a little protein, a cookie or two and be headed home to eat and relax.

When I parked I walked up to the door past a large, cream colored sedan.  The license plates bore the symbol of the “Purple Heart”.    My basic knowledge of this is that a recipient earns this if he is in the United States of America military and is injured during active duty.

I walked in to Subway and there were two tables with people in them.

One table held a gentleman around the age of 88 to 90.   A beautiful woman sitting next to him about the same age.  And a woman who bore a resemblance to both of them, sitting across the booth facing them.   I smiled and went to the counter to order.  I turned to look at them.  I smiled at him.

While waiting for my food I had a conversation in my head:

I should tell them hi.

No, leave them alone.

Just say hi.  They might appreciate it.

No, they might not appreciate being intruded upon.

While paying for my sandwich and cookies I managed to bungle everything because I didn’t have any pockets.  I was dropping money and having a difficult time holding keys, phone, dollar bills, coins, a bottle of pop and keeping my cookies out so I could eat them quickly.   I was hungry.

I got a little flustered.  Obviously I’m not going to speak.   I don’t want to not offer my hand to shake.

The poor boy at the register just looked at me while I was dropping and picking everything up.  Finally I just dumped it all in the bag with my sandwich and left  him relieved at the counter.

I walked up to the gentleman and his lovely women and asked “is that your car?  With the purple heart?”

“Yes it is”.   Before ‘it is’ was out of his mouth I had my hand out and he was just as quick to grab it.

I said “thank you very much for your service to us.  I appreciate you.”

He said something softly that I couldn’t quite hear so I leaned in and said “was it World War II?”

Softly, so that I had to lean in.  He said “yes ma’am.  Second wave.  June 6th, I was on the beach”.   I pulled back in awe.  And shock.  I didn’t see a 90 year old man.  I saw a soldier.  I saw a man who saw things I would never be able to handle.  He didn’t have to tell me the year.  Or the beach.  I knew what he meant.

His daughter, I presume, said “thank you so much for speaking to him”.   His wife was saying “thank you” at the same time.

I told him that I appreciate everything he did for us.  He said “it’s the one’s who didn’t come back that matter”.

I told him “you all matter to us”.

We exchanged some pleasantries.

But there sat another man, another soldier, that I truly owe my ability to do what ever I want to do.  What ever I want to work for.  What ever I want to vote for.  What ever I want to appreciate in my life.

I owe it to him.  And many like him.

I am lucky to have run in to him while I was out freely running around.

36 thoughts on ““I Was On The Beach”

    • 🙂 Thanks Heretic. I had coins on the floor, the counter, everything else dropping and spread out. That poor kid didn’t know whether to help or not. I’m just glad I gave up on that and tossed it all in the bag. Call me Bumbles.

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  1. It was nice that you went to him, we had a similar experience in Hawaii at Pearl Harbor. There was a gentleman in a wheelchair with a Veterans hat on and we started to talk to him, his daughter was with him and said this was the first time he was back since that day. What must have been going through his mind we have no idea, he served on one of the battle ships and was on shore leave when the attack happened.But like you I am glad we stopped by and let him know we remembered and will always remember and always be thankful.

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    • I cannot imagine what he was thinking and going through, the man at Pearl Harbor. I am glad I stopped and thanked him. And I was glad it wasn’t an intrusion on them. I don’t even know how to explain it, but when he said where he was and his experience…. I was stunned….. the reality of that time and that day was sitting before me. I wish I could explain that moment.

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  2. What a remarkable encounter! First of all–good for you for even noticing the license plate. But on top of that, of course, how wonderful that you spoke to him. It brings tears to my eyes just to picture it. You were definitely in the right place at the right time. God bless this dear man!

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  3. This is great, Colleen, just great. I could easily picture it all, and the conversation in your head and so on.

    I’m sure you made his day. That woman is lucky her man came back.

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