Someone Cares: Stories of Service

A veteran shares a moment with a passerby about birdseed and birds.

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- Posted on Oct 24, 2017

A woman expresses herself in conversation to a welcoming veteran in the outdoors.

“Excuse me, sir,” I said. I needed birdseed, but another customer’s cart was in the way. The man turned toward me. He wore baggy khaki pants held up with suspenders, a starched cotton shirt and a baseball cap that had World War II Veteran embroidered on it in gold thread.

“Hello!” he said cheerily, as though greeting an old friend.

“Hello,” I said. “Could I please squeeze by you?”

“Sure,” the man said. “You like birds, do you?” I nodded and reached for the seed.

“Me too,” he said. “I just can’t decide what to feed them.” I didn’t have time to talk! I told him that most birds like sunflower seeds. He picked up a small bag and, right before I rushed off, wished me well.

As I left the store, I saw him get into a cab. Immediately I regretted not spending a few minutes with him, chatting about my favorite birds or about his hat. Which branch of the military had he been in? Where had he served?

Now when I see someone with a hat that proclaims veteran status, I strike up a conversation. “Oh, you served in Korea,” I’ll say. “My dad did too.” Or “Navy, huh? Where were you stationed?”

Most veterans I speak to are not only willing to chat but eager to share their stories. And appreciative. Especially when I end the conversation with a sincere “Thank you for your service.”

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"Thank You all. Every book, magazine, and letter means a lot to us when we are away from home. It gives us hope, confidence, happiness, strength and pride that someone is there for us."            - Former Navy Sailor, Part of Operation Gratitude

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