Thank You is a Powerful Phrase….

…..But sometimes it just isn’t enough. We probably don’t say it enough, but sometimes it just doesn’t get the job done.

For me, this has been a good week. On Sunday, the evil Dallas Cowboys’ season went poof. Well, it really went poof a few weeks ago, but the smoke cloud became visible to all on Sunday with an ignominious loss to the lowly Jaguars. On Tuesday, the Democrat Party went poof. More to the point, the American people made it very clear just what kind of Hope and Change they meant. It isn’t the big government of the Bush years and it sure as hell isn’t the 3x bigger government of the Obama years. I thought about blogging/gloating about the election, but until the new majority proves they can get the country back to true Reagan style government, there really ain’t much to celebrate, except some authentic Hope for real Change.

As I was pondering whether to blog about the election or not, I got a sobering reminder of what it’s really all about in America. Though I’ve had a good week, it’s been a challenging one as well. I had to fly from DC to Phoenix (via Chicago….oops, never mind that flight was canceled…now via Dallas) on Tuesday for one meeting. Then, I had to fly from Phoenix to Miami (oops, that flight was canceled too…let’s go back through Dallas again – OK, I admit it was fun to see the faces of the Dallasians twice this week…never a more downtrodden group, other than, perhaps the Democrats. If only I could have lunch with like 4 Democrat Cowboys fans, but I digress) for one meeting. I flew home late Thursday night, slept a few hours, and got up at 4 AM today to fly to NY for one meeting.

By the time I boarded the flight to NY, I was feeling like a lot was being put on me by life. I boarded the small commuter jet and the guy across the aisle from me was a monster of a man wearing a tee-shirt with the USMC logo (while I curse my 5’8” dad and 5’2” mom constantly for the dreadful height genes they gave me, I have to admit that flying commuter jets is one of the few times I thank them for giving me my full adult stature of 5’8” and 148 lbs).

Ever since 9/11 and the commencement of the Afghan and Iraq Wars, I have made it a point to thank our men and women in the Armed Services every chance I get. If I stand next to a person in uniform in line, I just turn and say, “thank you for your service.” The look of surprise I see tells me they don’t get that very often. I think we, as a country, do a great job of thanking these brave men and women. But, I think it is likely too infrequent that they get thanked on a personal level. So, I do it whenever I can. I encourage you to as well.

I heard this monster marine chatting with the guy next to him (also a huge dude – these two cats were basically sitting on top of each other). I overheard him say that he had spent 7 years in Iraq. Later, I heard him say, “when they medi-vac’ed me out, it was 110 degrees on the tarmac.” So, I turned and asked him (duh), “did you get injured in Iraq?” He said, “oh yeah, I lost my leg” and pulled up the leg of his sweats to show me an artificial limb. As my close friends (or anyone who has spent 10 minutes in a room with me) know, I’m seldom at a loss for words, but this was one of those rare times. In a squeaky voice that was more that of my 12 year old daughter than my own, I just barely got out, “Thank you. I mean, that probably doesn’t say enough, but really, thank you for your service and sacrifice for our country.” He replied nonchalantly, “Nah, man. It was my fault. I just let my attention wander for a minute and, boom, it was gone.”

Holy shit. My mind quickly flashed to the meeting in Phoenix and the meeting in Miami. And the meeting I was about to have in NY. I couldn’t begin to count the number of times my attention wandered in those meetings. Quite literally, I must have had 100 or more attention wandering episodes in my job this week, and that doesn’t count the time sitting alone at my desk, which is like 2/3 attention wandering. In this guy’s job, a moment of attention wandering is a lost limb. And, he’s doing it for me. And you. Again, Holy Shit.

Then, I started thinking about the election again. I’m still happy with the outcome. Our country was on the wrong track and I’m hopeful this will put us back on the right track. We’ll see. But, meeting this heroic man reminded me again how lucky we all are as Americans. We are so lucky that men and women like Christopher Bowers have been putting themselves in harm’s way, losing their limbs or their lives, for 235 years so that we can all live free. Whether it’s with Nancy Pelosi or John Boehner or Barack Obama or George Bush or George Washington, for that matter, in charge, they have given and keep giving us that gift.  I know this doesn’t say nearly enough, but to the men and women of the military, Thank You. To Christopher Bowers, Thank You. God bless you all.

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About Bruce Robertson

Bruce Robertson is an amateur writer and professional provocateur
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5 Responses to Thank You is a Powerful Phrase….

  1. Jules says:

    Nice blog Bruce. I am from a military family (a large family both in stature and number) and we too have to send our care packages to far away middle eastern countries.
    We just had one nephew return from Iraq, and one deployed to Afghanistan a few weeks ago. That nephew is my “Hurt Locker” nephew. He is part of the EOD group in the Navy, meaning he can disarm a bomb under water, on land or while jumping from a plane. (http://www.eod.navy.mil/)
    I can’t imagine a more dangerous job as I type from my comfy chair and desk.
    I too thank any soldier I see in person. As my nephews have told me, you would be surprised how many people do just that when they travel.
    BTW, said nephew’s group is being followed by a camera crew from G4 through their training and now their deployment so if you see a Brendan Schmutte on TV, that’s our boy. Thank you for bringing this topic out for all to review. We thank them every day.
    Jules

  2. Nora Fox says:

    And thank you, Bruce. for your words to this Marine. I try to do that as well. Sometimes they look surprised that I have said that. I think it doesn’t mattter about our political affiliations when we say our gratitude. How great to be able to openly blog about our feelings on Tuesday and for all of us to say “thank you”.

  3. I forwarded my blog to the protagonist, Chris Bowers. He replied to me by email and I hope he’s OK that I have copied his reply below:

    Hey sir I wanted to let you know I read your blog and I’m very impressed with your comments. In our line of work it takes a half a second to change your life forever. For too long our country has tried to support us without supporting our war. The people need to know that we all volunteer to put our lives on the line everyday. As a patriot and veteran I would like to thank you for your kind words and hope you have a wonderful holiday season. God bless YOU sir.

    Respectfully,

    Chris Bowers
    A.k.a. Giant of a man

  4. Andy says:

    Great stuff my man. It is always amazing to me how humble our service men and women are.

  5. Thank you for your insights Bruce. As a person who didn’t have the honor of serving, I like you, thank a uniformed person, the guy in his VFW hat, etc. for the sacrifices they make for MY freedom…it’s humbling in my self-important world, that you I can read an account of a guy who thought it was his fault that he was in harm’s way.

    Our service men and women ROCK!

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