Steven C. Brown
When I wear my USMC gear, it's now very common for people to comment "Thank you for your service." My response is "Thank you for being an American worth fighting for." I sincerely mean that.
I can vividly remember the first time I heard those words, Sept. 1, 1991. I was coming in from dove hunting on a conservation area in Cooper County and was wearing USMC-issued cammo. Did not have the "cool" stuff when I served from 1966-69, but the woodland cammo is great for doves and turkey hunting. The cammo included a USMC cover, a hat for civilians.
Two hunters, older gentlemen, were in the parking lot cleaning doves. One of them asked me if I had served in the Marines, and I responded yes. He looked up and calmly said, "Thank you for your service." I turned and walked away from the parking lot to hide my tears. The emotions were and are too complicated for me to explain then and now. Somebody had cared enough to say thanks.
Vietnam veterans are quickly becoming like the WWII vets, going away, getting old. That small act of kindness at that time meant so much and still does. The country owes me nothing. I volunteered to go and it's I that owe the country. We seem to be losing that attitude. JFK said, "Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country." Remember that when Nov. 3 comes around.