A young soldier boarded the #6 train today at 68th Street heading, I suppose, to 23rd/Madison Square Park to take part in New York's Veterans Day Parade. He was wearing his camouflage gear with beret and boots, looking very, very young to me. As I worked my way toward the subway car door at the Grand Central stop, I caught his eye and said "Thank you." He smiled, nodding his "You're welcome," and I got off the train.
Today we honor our men and women who have served, and are serving, in the military. The day will be marked by parades with marching bands, phalanxes of servicepeople keeping step, and flags flying. This is fun stuff when there's not a lot of action going on in the world. It's easy to get caught up in the spectacle and patriotism.
But it's a hard time for those currently serving in the military and their families and friends. Iraq seems to be petering out, as Afghanistan heads in the other direction. Many of these young men and women are on their second and third (sometimes fourth) tour of duty, something no other generation of servicepeople has had to face. And then, last week's horrific event at Ft. Hood.
However you feel about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the men and women who serve this country deserve to be in our thoughts and prayers daily. Make a point to find out who's serving from your neighborhood or workplace. It has to be made personal on some level, or it loses meaning for us.
So look out for that soldier on the train, the sailor, marine, or national guardsman in the airport., and say thank you. Not just on Veterans Day. Every day.