After a long day playing on the lake with the kids, my wife and I treated ourselves to a late night dinner at the Waffle House. As we were checking out, I noticed a gentleman wearing a Vietnam Veteran cap. It was Memorial Day weekend, so it seemed right to pick up his bill. He thanked me, but he had already paid. I extended my hand and said, “Well, let me thank you for your service.” He took my hand, looked me in the eye and said with a smile, “You’re worth it, you’re an American.”
I know a lot of men join the service because it seems like the right next step. Perhaps some join because they are deeply patriotic. Others didn’t join at all but were drafted into service. Whatever his motivation for serving had been, he had thought deeply about what it meant for him and for our country. He had come to the conclusion that ultimately he wasn’t serving a collective ideal, he was serving and defending people, and a people that he deemed worthy of life and liberty.
I will think about that answer for a long time. Am I really worth all he saw and did in Vietnam? I don’t know that I am, but I want to measure up to what that man saw in everyone privileged to be called an American.