Halloween, veterans, some of my favorite things

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It was Halloween and I was semi-helping handing out candy to the kids while my grandchildren were scouring the neighborhood for candy of their own. I love watching little trick-or-treaters. We had set up a few special treats for the kids we thought had the best costume. It was not much, a piece of candy thrown in a bag, and a small pumpkin tea candleholder filled with extra candy.

It was Halloween and I was semi-helping handing out candy to the kids while my grandchildren were scouring the neighborhood for candy of their own. I love watching little trick-or-treaters. We had set up a few special treats for the kids we thought had the best costume. It was not much, a piece of candy thrown in a bag, and a small pumpkin tea candleholder filled with extra candy.

I only had one pick of best costume, so I waited. I knew it would come. In a lull between large groups, this little girl, came from through our tiny path, while her mother and friends waited on the sidewalk. Two other kids went around to the table to get their treat, but I had found my winner. At 4-years-old, she was adorable and wearing a navy blue and white sailor’s dress, cap and all. Needless, to say it instantly swept this sailor’s heart away.

When I stooped down to talk to her, I told her how much I loved her costume, how pretty she was and that she had won my best costume of the night and would get a special treat. She just giggled, and waited while I went over and got it. As I came back, a woman in a pea coat walked up, probably wondering why I was paying special attention to her, I said, “From one sailor to another, Happy Halloween.” The little girl’s eyes grew wide as she gave me a quick smile and a thank you. As the little girl left, the young woman in the pea coat looked at me and said, “I am a sailor too. Thank you for your service.”

I thanked her back and as she headed back towards the sidewalk, the little girl was telling her mother all about the special pumpkin she got because she was a sailor and had the best costume ever. She was a highlight of my night, and even so brief, the instant camaraderie of veteran to veteran was there with the young woman. It is a comfort, trust, respect and understanding of a way of life, both understanding the great and the horrible things that come with the job.

Right now, America is in a historical era of living veterans from current wars and conflicts dating back to World War II. When you look at all of the wars, conflicts and police actions since then, it can be mind-boggling. But, with the advance of medicine and technology, and people living longer lives, there probably has not been this many living veterans in the U.S., especially with such an expanse in ages.

In my family, there are four generations alive and well, that have served in the Armed Forces since World War II. Each generation has a different experience, served in many ways, visited countries and cultures and dealt with peace, threats and the horrors of war. It is reassuring to be a part of the long history of the many veterans that served this country. Whether or not I agree with a particular war or conflict is not a factor. That is not the point.

Serve, protect, defend, they all are the same in the heart of a veteran, and that is what we should all be grateful for.

“Thank you for your service.” Those are empowering and soothing words to the ears of veterans.

When you are out and about and see a woman or man in uniform, take 30 seconds out of your busy life, stop them and thank them for their service. And if by chance, you run across the older generation of veterans, take some extra time with them. Many of them served through several wars and conflicts and you just might learn a piece of history that you will never find in the books. Trust me, whether active duty or veteran, having someone that does not know you coming up and taking a moment out of their lives to say thank you, is a moment not forgotten.

With the many veterans and active duty we have living in our communities, you never know what a few kind words can do. For many returning veterans, those few words can be a light of hope in a heart of despair.

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