I’ve been a little weepy this past week. The strangest thing triggered it, too. My very first LONG road trip was in 2002 or 2003. My two youngest sons and I drove from California to Georgia to see my oldest graduate from boot camp. I encouraged him to see the world, so he took my advice and left for Germany not long after this photo of us was taken.
It was a wonderful and memorable trip that I’ll NEVER forget. Fort Worth Texas was one of our stops and they had beautiful lights up, and a horse and carriage trotting through the street. It was magical!
I have one photo that I took of my three boys at the base, after the ceremony—just after I pinned my son’s Infantry Blue Cord onto his uniform. My boys were all smiles in the photo. Not until later did I notice another soldier standing behind them, to their right. Everywhere else in the background you see families, happy and hugging, and there was this young man—alone, and staring ahead. His cord was still in his hand. I’m not sharing it out or respect for his anonymity.
I don’t know why but I’m in tears even now when I write this! His face, for some reason, is forever etched in my mind. I have no idea what his story was, or where his family was, but I know that if I had noticed him at the time- I would have gone over to him. It’s one of those things where you wish you could go back and do a do-over.
Anyhow, I cried for him the other night when I saw that photo again. It’s likely he ended up being shipped to Afghanistan, and I just prayed that he’s alive and happy somewhere.
I know—strange story. It’s been on my mind for a week now and I needed to write about it and get it off of my chest.
All in all, the trip is another precious memory I hold on to. And this story itself is a great reminder to me: Be grateful. Love and hug your family often, and never take your life—or theirs—for granted. Always be kind and look out for others, even strangers. They may not have what you have, and may be in dire need a smile, a hug, or just an encouraging word.
Or maybe someone to pin their Infantry Blue Cord onto their uniform.