Tahlequah Daily Press

Letters to editor

November 8, 2013

Showing gratitude for service

TAHLEQUAH — Editor, Daily Press:

Whenever I am out and about, I keep a watch for black ballcaps with gold letters that identify the wearers as veterans. It gives me an opportunity to thank them for their service.

Many veterans I have spoken to will smile, say, “Thank you,” and I can tell they appreciate hearing those words.

A few years back at a local restaurant, I saw a man wearing that hat with “Vietnam vet” in gold letters stitched across the front. I quickly made my way across the room to tell him, “Thank you for your service.” He shook my hand and in a quiet, reserved voice, said, “Thanks.” Walking behind him was his wife, and I was surprised when she stopped me to say, “Thank you for doing that. It means a lot to him and me.”

That was the first time that had ever happened to me and I will never forget it.

When my wife was teaching second grade, she felt it was important to explain to her class why we observe Veterans Day. She told them to look for those black hats with the gold letters and encouraged them to go up to the veteran and say “thank you.”

A few days later one of the boys in her class came running up to her and was upset and confused. “Mrs. Bilby, I did what you told me to do but he started crying. What did I do wrong?”

She explained to him that he didn’t do anything wrong, but that he actually made that veteran very happy. She told him he probably hadn’t heard “thank you” in a long time, especially from someone so young, and that’s why he started crying.

We may not agree with the politics or motives behind our troop involvement/deployment, but they still need our support before, during and after their tours of duty. We also need to remember their families

Our freedoms are being defended by our men and women of the U.S. armed forces, and every one of us owes them a tremendous debt of gratitude.

To all the veterans who proudly served, please wear those hats so my family and I can thank you personally, and so I can teach my children that freedom isn’t guaranteed or free.

Greg Bilby

Tahlequah

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