Musings on the appreciation of US Military Veterans.

My neighbor Thom is a decorated Viet Nam veteran. He's done very well for himself since his time in country - first having attended college and then making a successful career in the real estate industry all while raising a family of children.

I met Thom a few years back when he and his Wife moved into the neighborhood. I noticed his license plate had a Viet Nam Purple Heart insignia so approached him to remove my cover, introduce myself and thank him for his service. Clearly it had been some time, if ever, since anyone showed gratitude for his tremendous sacrifice. He welled up in his own appreciation and we connected immediately. My irrepressible tears are rolling softly as I recall the moment.

On the evening of this last July 4th, I bumped into Thom at a fireworks display near our homes. And, having enjoyed several libations by mid-evening, I was quite unrestrained in my continued gratitude.

Just as I was shaking his hand to say hello it occurred to me...,"I'm 52 years old this year."

"Uh-huh.", he replied politely.

"Well, a standard deployment was 52 weeks, wasn't it?" I asked.

"Yup. It sure was."

"Yeah well that means you spent 7 full days in military combat for every single cotton-pickin 4th of July I've ever enjoyed!"

He responded coyly, "well I got my third and final trip to the hospital later on and so I went home three weeks early."

"Oh !", I replied, "then I have obviously over-credited you for your contribution!"

Recalculating it turns out to be 6.8 days in direct military combat for every 4th - every year of my 52 years of life.

Thanks Thom.