It was a day like any other. I had gotten three of the four kids off to school and my 3 year old and I were off to Westminster to run errands. By eleven we had already finished most of the errands when I
noticed my gas light had been on (for who knows how long). We immediately headed to BJ's for gas. I pulled in behind a man who appeared to be in his late sixties or early seventies. Although I am a terrible judge of age so he
might have been well into his eighties. As we were both pumping gas I glanced at his rear window and noticed a sticker proclaiming he was a veteran. It brought a smile to my face, the thought that someone is willing to give
their life for my freedom is something that I respect greatly. A minute or so later another man pulled up on the other side of the pump and began filling his tank. It didn't take long before these two apparent strangers were
engaged in a brief but heart felt conversation. And although I didn't hear all of it, and attempted not to eaves drop, I was able to discern enough to get the gist of what was going on. The newest of the two gentlemen must have
seen the same sticker I had seen when he pulled up. After setting his pump to fill his vehicle he struck up a conversation with the man. I am sure it was a familiar conversation for these two gentlemen and many other veterans
that went something like this. "So I noticed your sticker," one would say to the other, "what war were you in?" After answering the man with the sticker would reply, "how about you?" If per chance they had served in the same
war, as these gentlemen had, the conversation would become a little more personal. Possibly asking when, or where they each had served. And even more personal would be the question of which platoon, company, etc. So there I was
at the gas pumps at BJ's in awe of these two strangers being brought together by the mutual respect of having served their country.
As a mom I sometimes worry that one of my sons, or even my daughters, will decide to join the military. My husband and I have actually discussed the likelihood that our youngest son might very well decide
that is the path he wants to take. And although the thought of it brings me to tears, I am also filled with an intense pride for anyone who would choose this career path. No mother wants her children to pick a career that might
lead them into harms way. I am included in that whole heartedly. But knowing that if it weren't for all of the men and women who have served in the military we might not have the freedom we have now is simply put...humbling! And
to think that might child would one day want to be a part of something so important, encompassing, and respectful, brings me to tears.
The tears however are like a double edged sword. I could not in good conscience, as his mom, stop myself from trying to talk him out of it. Please don't misunderstand, I am not trying to take anything
away from anyone who chooses this career path. It is just that when you give birth to a baby there is never a time in their life from birth until death that you do not have this overwhelming instinct to protect them. So if they
choose a career path that could in anyway put them in harms way, you will without thought try and stop them. That being said, if he convinced me it was what was in his heart and he was going to follow that, then I would do my
very best to be supportive. That includes, but is not limited to, crying when he is not looking.
And I can only hope he would finish his tour of duty in good health and happiness and hopefully be a better person for it. Then maybe one day he will be at a gas station getting gas and see someone with a
sticker that will spark a conversation. And that conversation will be witnessed by another mom with small children who will shed a tear at the mutual respect, the honor, and the uncontrollable fear that her baby might choose the
When I am out with my husband he is very good at recognizing military stickers, patches and tattoos. When he does he immediately goes up to that person and sincerely thanks them for their service. This is
a small gesture that I have always admired about my husband and something that not nearly enough people do. Whether it be because you are too shy, too busy or just too naive to realize what these people have done for you, get
over it and thank them. Thank them for serving, for doing something you couldn't or wouldn't, for duty, or just thank them out of respect. No matter how you do it; a handshake, a "thank you", a small gesture, or the giant
marquee that I saw at a hotel in Frederick, just thank these people for what they have done for you, me and our country.
To all of the men and women who have served, are serving, or might serve in the armed forces...thinking of you on Memorial Day, thank you and God bless! John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this: to
lay down ones life for ones friends. (NIV)
Read other articles by Mary Angel