Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Veteran Punch Bowl

We're pretty quiet about what we've done. Some of us have Guilt, some of us have Anger, most of us carry the scars of Fear and we all hear the Echos of Cadence. And as much as it may have damaged us, we miss it.

Last 4th of July was my first time out of the house in celebration since the war. In equal stride today was my first time out in open celebration of my status as a Combat Veteran.

I used to cringe when people thanked me for my service. "Your welcome, just don't ask me to do it again."

But today was a good day. I went to Applebees for lunch, where the Veterans eat for free! I walked in sporting my Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran hat and my tan Dicky shirt with all my old Army patches sewn on it. As I was lead to my table I was met with eye contact and a nod for every guy in the room, who were all wearing their hats and patches.

Its an interesting exchange, through eye contact. We watch each other watching each other. Looking at patches and pins searching for the one we know, the one we earned, the one that hurt. That's why we're so quiet about it, its like holding a wide open punch bowl filled to the rim.

Always afraid we're going to spill ourselves all over a crowded room.

We keep it pretty simple. On my way out I saw his patch and he saw mine, I wore mine in the last war but he's had his since the second one. I stopping to shake his hand I said "Howdy Sir" and he replied "How'ya doing Sergeant?" There was too much so I just nodded.

I have not been called Sergeant in over six years, it gave my soul goose bumps.

His wife asked if we were in the Army together and I busted out laughing. Until he said yes.

Afterwords I went out to my truck and spilled my punch.


Lavanah said...

Gods all bless, Joe. And, thank you.

WitchDoctorJoe said...

Yur so welcome sis.

olekesbbq said...

Bro, there is a reason why we are free today. You were there to slug it out with any one that said otherwise. THAT is massive. Sounds like it was a good mindful lunch and that you had a good time. All the same folks (cringe) all back home safe, sharing the moment of realization (joy). Thanks again man.

k. sequoia said...

In so few words, you convey so much. Awesome.

My husband and I both tell military thank you - I have often wondered how they feel in response. So much goes unsaid in this world - I want you, each of you, to know my gratitude. (I did not read your comments as if I should not offer it, only that it gives me insight, and more compassion. Thank you.)

There's so much that your post makes me think about, feel - but I'll leave it at this. Thank you. Not just for your service, but for your Heart. You rock, Man.

Kim Sequoia

WitchDoctorJoe said...

Aww shucks, twern nuthin *blush*

Blessed Be

Connie said...

Hi Joe, I followed you over here from Pagan Veteran USA :) I shall have to explore your blog - I really enjoyed this post. I've had a number of veteran meet ups that were very special, but I think my first was my best... I went to basic after HS in '85, as did a number of my friends. We managed to meet up in our home city after basic and go out to celebrate. We met up in a tiny quiet bar, downtown in a big city, and thought we'd be invisible, just have a simple private get together (this was when 18yos could get beer with an active duty ID card). Nothing much going on at the time. No holiday. We were talking about our adventures in Basic, and were obviously overheard... drinks started coming and veterans our parents' age came up to visit with us, ask us questions, and thank us for our service. Like you say, it gets down to your soul. We'd learned to be part of a team in Basic, this encounter showed us we were also part of a new family

Bogaman said...

Thanks for serving our country. Xavier

WitchDoctorJoe said...

Your welcome Bogaman, just don't ask me to do it again, hahaha.