My dear veteran,

I wanted to write and say thank you. 

I want you to know how deeply I commend you, how genuinely I adore you and how proud I am to get to speak with you. I always jump at the opportunity to get to write features about you and your service to this county. You are a celebrity to me. I want to know you, hear you and give you credit for your service. After all you have done for your country, for me, it’s the least I can do. 

Thank you for letting me. 

Sometimes you are hesitant to tell me your story because you are too humble and don’t want to seek praise for your sacrifice and bravery. I want you to know that you deserve all the praise, admiration and respect. Your story is important. You deserve for your story to be heard, shared and learned from. Your stories touch my heart and amaze me, break my heart and teach me. As I listen, I’m engaged in your past and present. I can see you. You trust me, and let me into your inner circle.  

Thank you for telling me.

I also want you to know that I am sorry. I’m sorry for my awkwardness when I shake your hand and thank you. It’s because I want so badly for you to know how sincere I am in my gratitude, even though I know it’s not enough; a meager offering compared to your service. 

Thank you for accepting me.

You are the hardy patriots, the backbone of our nation. You selflessly put yourself aside to add to its strength. You protected your country and her people, helping us to be able weather the storms. You served in building the foundation that all of us, your countrymen, can stand upon. Of all those whose lives you effectively touched, directly or indirectly, if you weren’t there, we would not be here.

Thank you for protecting me.

I feel ashamed that I don’t have more to give you than my gratitude. I hope that it, coupled with my understanding while we talk, is enough of a token to show you that I care for you and your great gift of service to this nation. It is always my pleasure to write in your honor. You have my heart — and my pen. Whether you like to admit it or not, you are my hero. My heroes don’t need capes. They wear OD Green. 

Thank you for being my veteran. 

• • •

Rebekah Beeler is editor of the Glade Sun. She can be reached at rbohannon@crossville-chronicle.com or 931-484-5145.

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