Happy Veteran’s Day

November 10th, 2013


I was 24, walking through Newark airport in uniform, when I paused in the concourse. I think it was to glance at the gate information. I don’t quite remember that part. A woman, about fifty-years-old or so, lightly grabbed my elbow to get my attention and asked, “Can I give you a hug?” Not one to turn down a hug, I smiled and said, “Sure.”

What I didn’t expect is the lady latched on and didn’t let go! People walked by and looked over with curious expressions while she held on and rocked back and forth. My slight feeling of embarrassment disappeared when I felt her sobbing. I fought not to get choked up and continued to hug her for what must of been a couple of minutes.

When she was finished, she said “thank you” and dried her eyes. As she walked off, I thought of all of the reasons she may have offered this outpouring of love. I also thought about it more on my flight.

Many years later, I still remember this vividly and it’s only increased in meaning as I see service members around us going into or returning from dangerous circumstances. They sign up with a sense of duty, perhaps with a family tradition of service, but maybe most importantly, and inexplicably, with a desire to defend complete strangers who they love and who also love them back. That’s the best explanation for that hug I can attempt to describe in words. And for every person who has given a soldier a hug, somewhere there will be a vet who has never forgotten it!

Happy Veteran’s Day!