This is one of those forwards that I received the ohter day in my email. I usually just delete these, but this one was different & I thought it was worth posting here.
I was sitting alone in one of those loud, casual steak houses that you
find all over the country. You know the type--a bucket of peanuts on
every table, shells littering the floor, and a bunch of perky college
kids racing around with long neck beers and sizzling platters.
Taking a sip of my iced tea, I studied the crowd over the rim of my
glass. My gaze lingered on a group enjoying their meal. They wore no
uniform to identify their branch of service, but they were definitely
"military:" clean shaven, cropped haircut, and that "squared away" look
that comes with pride.
Smiling sadly, I glanced across my table to the empty seat where my
husband usually sat. It had only been a few months since we sat in this
very booth, talking about his upcoming deployment to the Middle East .
That was when he made me promise to get a sitter for the kids, come back
to this restaurant once a month and treat myself to a nice steak. In turn
he would treasure the thought of me being here, thinking about him until
he returned home.
I fingered the little flag pin I constantly wear and wondered where he
was at this very moment. Was he safe and warm? Was his cold any better?
Were my letters getting through to him?
As I pondered these thoughts, high pitched female voices from the next
booth broke into my thoughts. "I don't know what Bush is thinking about.
Invading Iraq . You'd think that man would learn from his old man's
mistakes. Good Lord. What an idiot! I can't believe he is even in office.
You do know, he stole the election."
I cut into my steak and tried to ignore them as they began an endless
tirade running down our president.
I thought about the last night I spent with my husband, as he prepared
to deploy. He had just returned from getting his smallpox and anthrax
shots. The image of him standing in our kitchen packing his gas mask
still gives me chills.
Once again the women's voices invaded my thoughts.
"It's all about oil, you know. Our soldiers will go in and rape and
steal all the oil they can in the name of 'freedom'. Hmmm! I wonder how
many innocent people they'll kill without giving it a thought. It's pure
greed, you know."
My chest tightened as I stared at my wedding ring. I could still see how
handsome my husband looked in his "mess dress" the day he slipped it on
my finger I wondered what he was wearing now. Probably his desert
uniform, affectionately dubbed "coffee stains" with a heavy bulletproof
vest over it.
"You know, we should just leave Iraq alone. I don't think they are
hiding any weapons. In fact, I bet it's all a big act just to increase
the president's popularity. That's all it is, padding the military budget
at the expense of our social security and education. And, you know what
else? We're just asking for another 9-11. I can't say when it happens
again that we didn't deserve it."
Their words brought to mind the war protesters I had watched gathering
outside our base. Did no one even appreciate the sacrifice of brave men
and women, who leave their homes and family to ensure our freedom? Do
they even know what "freedom" is?
I glanced at the table where the young men were sitting, and saw their
courageous faces change. They had stopped eating and looked at each other
dejectedly, listening to the women talking.
"Well, I, for one, think it's just deplorable to invade Iraq , and I am
certainly sick of our tax dollars going to train professional
baby-killers we call a military."
Professional baby-killers. I thought about what a wonderful father my
husband is, and of how long it would be before he would see our children
That's it! Indignation rose up inside me. Normally reserved, pride in
my husband gave me a brassy boldness I never realized I had. Tonight one
voice will answer on behalf of our military, and let her pride in our
troops be known.
Sliding out of my booth, I walked around to the adjoining booth and
placed my hands flat on their table. Lowering myself to eye level with
them, smiling I said, "I couldn't help overhearing your conversation. You
see, I'm sitting here trying to enjoy my dinner alone. And, do you know
why? Because my husband, whom I love with all my heart, is halfway around
the world defending your right to say rotten things about him."
"Yes, you have the right to your opinion, and what you think is none of
my business. However, what you say in public is something else, and I
will not sit by and listen to you ridicule MY country, MY president, MY
husband, and all the other fine American men and women who put their
lives on the line, just so you can have the "freedom" to complain.
Freedom is an expensive commodity, ladies. Don't let your actions cheapen
I must have been louder than I meant to be, because the manager came
over to inquire if everything was all right
"Yes, thank you," I replied.
Then, turning back to the women, I said, "Enjoy the rest of your meal."
As I returned to my booth applause broke out. I was embarrassed for
making a scene, and went back to my half eaten steak. The women picked up
their check and scurried away.
After finishing my meal, and while waiting for my check, the manager
returned with a huge apple cobbler ala mode. "Compliments of those
soldiers," he said. He also smiled and said the ladies tried to pay for
my dinner, but that another couple had beaten them to it.
When I asked who, the manager said they had already left, but that the
gentleman was a veteran, and wanted to take care of the wife of "one of
With a lump in my throat, I gratefully turned to the soldiers and
thanked them for the cobbler. Grinning from ear to ear, they came over
and surrounded the booth.
"We just wanted to thank you, ma'am. You know we can't get into
confrontations with civilians, so we appreciate what you did."
As I drove home, for the first time since my husband's deployment, I
didn't feel quite so alone. My heart was filled with the warmth of the
other diners who stopped by my table, to relate how they, too, were proud
of my husband, and would keep him in their prayers.
I knew their flags would fly a little higher the next day. Perhaps they
would look for more tangible ways to show their pride in our country, and
the military that protect her. And maybe, just maybe, the two women who
were railing against our country would pause for a minute to appreciate
all the freedom America offers, and the price it pays to maintain its
As for me, I have learned that one voice CAN make a difference.
Maybe the next time protesters gather outside the gates of the base
where I live, I will proudly stand on the opposite side with a sign of my
own. It will simply say, "Thank You!"
To those who fought for our nation, freedom has a flavor the protected
will never know.
GOD BLESS AMERICA !
Please pray for God's protection of our troops and HIS wisdom for their
commanders. Pass this on to as many as you think will respond.
"Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they
protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they
perform for us in our time of need. I ask this in the name of Jesus, our
Lord and Savior."