Since moving into our current home in 2002, we've been blessed to have a neighbor who puts a US Flag on every property on the street on Memorial Day weekend. It's a beautiful site to see the flags lining both sides of the street.
For years, I've wondered who this person was and why he or she chose this option to celebrate Memorial Day. I wondered if they served or, perhaps lost a son or daughter in service.
And I've always wanted to offer my thanks, but never knew who it was that performed this wonderful act.
Yesterday, I met him - sort of.
I was in the middle of a project with my hands full when Sam came in and told me that the man who gives us the flag was coming up the street. By the time I got my hands cleaned up and got outside, he was already on the other side of the street (we're the last house on one side) and about 3 houses up...so I called out to him.
Either he didn't hear me - or didn't want to acknowledge me.
As I walked quickly after him and he didn't answer my hails, I wondered if he didn't want be thanked for what he was doing. If maybe my recognition of his act might embarrassment him in some way.
But even as these thoughts were going through my mind, my feet continued in his direction. Despite so many of his generation believing they require no thanks for the service they performed, I believe we owe them a lifetime of gratitude and that any opportunity to say 'thank you' should never go by without those words being said.
So as he placed another flag and I approached, I said, "Excuse me, sir," and he looked up at me. I offered my hand and he grasped it firmly. I was struck by how large and strong his hand was, but how also by how gently he took mine. He was wearing both a hat and shirt with military markings, but all could see where his eyes. I don't even remember the color, just the fact that they were clear and kind.
I told him that I always wanted to know whom to thank for our flag and now I could do so in person.
He didn't say anything - just nodded and gave my hand an additional squeeze.
Then he turned and began walking back up the street, placing flag after flag...
And still I do not know his name - but I know his heart.
Happy Memorial Day!