by: Carol Davis (West Suburban Patriots)
11/11/13 Veterans Day
I bartend part time at a local bowling alley — nice crowd, lots of “regulars”, not very many rowdy drunks, thank goodness. Tonight one of my customers, who happens to be active-duty military and served in the Middle East, did something that I will think about for a long time. Business was steady so I was busy. After bowling he came into the bar with his brothers and ordered a pitcher, as usual. I asked how many glasses I should set up on the bar, and he said five. I set them up and got busy with customers and didn’t pay much attention as people talked and drank and watched the Monday night game. As the evening wound down and they got up to leave, he pointed to the bar and said, “Carol, could you leave those there until the last possible minute?”. I glanced over to the spot at the bar where he was pointing. Without looking closely, somehow I knew right away the significance of what I saw. I looked back at him and said, “You bet I will. You have a good evening.”
As all the customers gradually left, I did my closing work. Somehow it seemed to take a bit longer than usual. There was something about those two glasses on the bar, and what they stood for, that made me not want to disturb them. A few minutes before midnight, a few minutes before Veterans Day would end for this year, I went over and took the glasses off the bar and poured the warm beer down the sink. And then I took the two bar napkins, the ones with the names of his two fallen comrades and the letters “KIA” and the dates written on them, and I carefully folded them and put them in my pocket.
Now I sit here at my kitchen table at 1:00 am, writing this and looking at those names, and thinking of these two precious young men and of all the wonderful young men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for us. And “thank you” is so small and insignificant. I pray for their families and for all of the friends and loved ones who on this day are so sharply feeling the pain of their loss. It is my duty to make sure that this nation remains a nation worth defending, to make sure that all these sacrifices made throughout our history have not been made in vain. May God bless America, the land of the free, because of the brave.