At our town’s Veteran’s Day ceremony, I met a hero.
As I stood beside the large Vietnam War sign explaining to my sons how so many soldiers coming home from that war were dishonored and disrespected, a white-haired lady wearing a sporty American flag jacket stepped beside me. She pointed to the bricks at our feet and began to tell me her story.
Twelve of those bricks bore the names of her family members. A father, a husband, four sons, two brothers, some brothers-in-law, two grandsons, a great-grandson.
She has spent most of her life sending loves ones off to war. Her husband fought in World War 2. Her sons were in Vietnam. Her grandsons went to the Persian Gulf and then Iraq. Her great-grandson is about to head to Afghanistan.
I know it sounds corny, but I felt humbled to be standing next to her.
I never even got her name, but she has made a lasting impression on me. This lady has known sacrifice. She has known fear and uncertainty and then unspeakable joy as her loved ones have returned home. And each of them did return home — a miracle, no doubt.
She came to honor the veterans. She came to see the names of her own family members etched into the bricks. She came to remember her husband, who has been gone more than ten years now.
But this lady, tall and dignified with her crown of gray hair – she deserves to be honored. She is also a hero. The veteran wife, mother, grandmother.