You are going to think that my husband and I eat out all the time. We do eat out a lot, but not all the time. I’m afraid if we didn’t eat out we’d miss ideas for shirlandyou. It so happened, as we sat in a restaurant, that this week’s
subjects for shirlandyou walked up and sat at a table next to us. They were two young, handsome, and highly decorated, soldiers. Thinking of our grandson, I said to them, “Are you in the Marines.” They were in the Army.(I’m very poor at recognizing the different service uniforms.)
“The two of you must have earned every award there is,” I said. Their response to this remark was a deep blush in their faces. I thought I could make up for my blunder about what service they represented by taking the
opportunity to thank them for what they were doing for our country. And so I did. Then, I noticed that nearly everyone passing their table did the same thing, as they told them how grateful they were for their involvement in the armed forces. I was glad they did that.
In the booth behind us sat two elderly women, who chatted and enjoyed lunch together. What was to come was a very touching moment. One of them went over to the soldiers’ table and gave each of them some
carefully folded bills. (cash) With a blush of color again on their faces, the soldiers tried to say, “don’t do that.” But she insisted and returned to her table.When she rose to leave, so did the two men to give her a hug for her show of gratitude. I have a feeling that what she did was one of their most appreciated awards.
I didn’t ask their names or why they were in formal uniform. Maybe a parade was scheduled or an event to honor them or someone else they served with. And, of course, I didn’t ask what each stripe or pin represented. I did read what one of today’s servicemen says about the decorations they receive. I’m sure he, too, gets warm flashes of face
color, when people act impressed. He said that today’s soldiers get medals just for showing up and breathing. I’m sure he was being modest. He did mention that awards with a “V” device (for valor) were held in high esteem. Then he remembered that some World War II veterans came home with less than two full rows of ribbons, and he said this was quite different from today, meaning they should have been awarded much more.
This soldier was brushing off the award system, but we know that many awards are earned because of distinguished service. Robert Lewis
Howard, a highly decorated United States Army soldier, was a Medal of Honor recipient of the Vietnam War. Such award was well earned. He was wounded 14 times over 54 months of combat, was awarded 8 Purple Hearts, 4 Bronze Stars and was nominated for the medal of Honor three separate times. His Army career spanned thirty six years and, in 1992, he retired as a Colonel. And although he remained safe during his tours of duty, in 2009, he died of cancer at the age of 70. He lays at rest in the Arlington National Cemetery.
Audie Leon Murphy was one of the most famous and decorated American combat soldiers of World War II. He always maintained that his medals
belonged to his entire military unit. You may have seen this soldier in the movies. After the war, he enjoyed a 21 year career as an actor. Most of his 44 films were Westerns. We like to think that his medals and ribbons were sufficient awards for the sacrifices and suffering he made while serving. However, his suffering continued. In later years, Audie was labeled with post-traumatic stress disorder and slept with a loaded gun under his pillow.
No, our servicemen deserve any praise they may receive. I am reminded of this each time I see the TV commercial about the “Wounded Warrior Project,” a mission to honor and empower Wounded Warriors of the U. S. Armed Forces. My heart sinks each time I view it, I get a lump in my throat and tears well up in my eyes. What rewards are given can’t begin to pay them for their service to our country and for physical and mental injuries, illness and wounds suffered, not only during combat duty, but after as well. What are your thoughts on this? I hope you’ll write to ShirlandYou.