Recognizing the heroes who live among us
Five years ago I was in Hawaii with my colleague Matt to perform services under a contract with the Hawaii Public Housing Authority. I know what you're thinking – "Wow, how great is it that this guy gets to go to Hawaii for business." To be perfectly honest, I would rather go to Newark or Baltimore, which are both closer to my home and my family. Flying to Hawaii is grueling and staying in a hotel room is, well, staying in a hotel room. But this visit would be different.
At around six o'clock, Matt and I decided to go across the street for dinner. The next day, Dec. 7, was the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, just a few miles away. We walked into the restaurant and noticed an old man sitting alone. Matt, being from a military family, immediately recognized him as a survivor. I approached the man and asked if I could buy him dinner or maybe a drink. I thanked him for his service, although he and I both knew I could never truly understand what he had been through.
The veteran, whose name was John, accepted my offer, and several Heinekens later began to open up. He had been to every Pearl Harbor anniversary in the past, but this would be his first without his beloved wife, who had just recently died.