Wolf Road in Albany has to be the busiest roadway in the entire Capital District. Stopping in the traffic and getting out of your car in that road is almost as dangerous as navigating the bread aisle at the Latham Hannaford the night before another Upstate New York snow storm. Yet, that’s what happened to us. We were threading our way through the traffic on our way to the Mall. Waiting for the light to change, sitting three lanes out in the middle of the road and preparing to turn left onto Sand Creek Road, was when I saw her in my rear-view mirror. The woman in the car behind us had exited her car, right on the double lines, and was walking toward us.
I consider myself a fair driver and pretty good at seeing what’s going on around me. However, in that particular moment, I thought that I must have made some bonehead maneuver and that woman was about to let me know about it. She approached the driver’s window and tapped on it. With nowhere to hide, I pressed the window switch and prepared myself to sheepishly apologize, before the poor woman became someone’s hood ornament. With traffic whizzing by, she greeted me with a big smile and said “Thank you”. I was taken back, thinking that this was some sort of wisecracking woman who I surely had cut off in all the traffic. When I said “Thanks for what?”, she pointed to the back of my car and said “I saw your license plate and wanted to say Thank You”. As she returned to her car it struck me. I have plates with the Veteran logo and this nice lady risked her neck for that small, but very much appreciated statement.
When I completed my Service time in 1973, being a Veteran was not something most of us talked about. Vietnam was a pretty charged topic during that era and even non-combat guys like me, set our time served on the back burner. If you’re old enough to remember, the protests were in the news, right alongside the war coverage with all the carnage the network news services could display. Those days did not elicit “thank you” from too many people.
I make it a point these days to thank our men and women in uniform. Recently, while picking up some family members at the airport, I came up to a young Airman and thanked him for serving. As you would expect, I got a big smile along with a sincere “Thank you for saying that, sir”.
I said all that to say this as a reminder: when you see that uniform, take a minute to tell these young men and woman how much you appreciate them for sacrificing their time and putting their lives on hold to protect your freedoms.