It’s Memorial Day. The day officially set aside for remembering and paying tribute to those serving this country who gave their lives to protect our freedoms. That’s fine and dandy, but it’s just like going to church for an hour on Sunday. If one hour a week or one day a year is all you put into it … well, flat out, that isn’t enough.
Participating in the Armed Forces Entertainment/Paralyzed Veteran’s of America Outdoor Legends Tour in the summer of 2012 provided me with perspective. Until you catch a first-hand glimpse of life in a place like Afghanistan and meet the troops who have to adjust their mental state to the paradigm in which they live for 9-12 months, then must switch back to regular old life at home–it’s hard to understand—maybe impossible.
After a long wait to clear customs at JFK on the way home, I found myself standing in line at the gate to check in for the flight that constituted the last leg home. There was a woman just ahead of me on her phone. She was complaining extremely loudly it seemed, about the “atrocious” service she received in a restaurant. They dared deliver her the wrong dressing with her salad. Seems she’d called out the manager and had the waitress nearly fired, at least by her seething description. You’d have thunk they tried to feed her poison.
I just stepped back and shook my head. So many Americans just have no idea … We owe these people remembrance, respect and thanks every day we wake up in a free country.
The Outdoor Legends Tour that the National Wild Turkey Federation and Mossy Oak spearheaded with AFE/PVA was all about the outdoors and was representing the outdoorsfolk back here at home. And while the hunters, fisherpeople, and outdoorspeople we met were highly appreciative, we met just as many or more equally great people who were not of the outdoors bent. They surely deserve a pat on the back, too, because they are doing as the same great work as the hunters and anglers. So I’ve set about looking for ways to thank them, too. Here’s a great one that’s inexpensive and easy as a few mouse clicks. Best of all, it provides a much appreciated, everyday thank you and assurance they are not forgotten.
Buy a Troop a Cup of Coffee – Many of the larger camps we visited have at least one or two Green Beans Coffee shops on the base. This company’s motto is “Honor first. Coffee second.” They contribute an ongoing portion of their revenues to causes supporting troops and their families. They have a program called “Buy a Joe a Cup of Joe.” You can follow this link and spend as little as $2 to buy a deployed soldier, marine, sailor or air man a really good cup of coffee. It will come with a message of support that you write and the opportunity for the recipient to reply (as most of them do). I think it’s a really neat little program. I just bought 10 soldiers a cup of coffee each.
While in Afghanistan, I found my way to the Green Beans shops on various bases at some unusual hours of the day (for me anyway). Sometimes I talked to troops, but sometimes I just sat back and watched. These cafes are definitely a big part of their lives when deployed, and it makes buying them a cup of coffee from thousands of miles away even more meaningful. You’re saying “thank you” in a way just like you would if you had the chance to sit across the table from them.
Even simpler, just never pass up the opportunity to go up to those in uniform (cops and firefighters, too), shake their hands, look them in the eyes and say, “Thank you for your service.” It really means the world to them.
And, think about it. What’s the most basic advice doled out by the elders under the big pine? “Always say please and thank you.” Right? You’ll be making the elders proud, too.