Is patriotic appreciation alive and well?

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Valerie Pryor
  • Directorate of Mission Support
"Thanks for your service." "We appreciate you." "Thank you for serving our country." Is patriotic appreciation alive and well or dead and buried in America? Over the past few months, I experienced several incidents where I thought about the attitude of the people we serve. I would like to take this opportunity to share several of those events and ask you to cast your vote. 

The first occasion happened at a local restaurant that a co-worker and I patronized. We were graciously seated next to a pair of women; a mother and daughter. They noticed our uniforms and thanked us for our service and struck up a conversation. The daughter's son recently joined the Air Force and both women had numerous curious questions about his future career. We willingly answered their questions and addressed their concerns. We wished them luck when they departed and received more gratifying comments. When my co-hort and I finished our meals, we flagged down the waitress to get our check. We were told that it was already taken care of by the women seated next to us. 

The second incident took place at Denver International Airport. About 20 of us, in uniform, were gathered in the terminal for the departure of one teammate and the arrival of another. A sharply dressed gentleman went out of his way to personally shake the hand of each and every one of us and thank us for our service. 

The next event occurred at another local eatery with a mixed group of about 30 military and civilians at a farewell luncheon. As we were finishing our lunches, one of our servers announced to the table that a customer bought each one of us a dish of ice cream. This time, I was not going to let our benefactor get away. The server identified her to me as she was leaving. I chased her down, extended my hand, and thanked her on behalf of all of us. She revealed that she was an 81-year-old World War II Army nurse and spent the next five minutes sharing her story and ending with, "I love you all." I told her it was our pleasure to serve her. She held my hand the entire time; I felt goose bumps all over. 

The fourth episode involved a full capacity flight of people sporting civilian garb. While taxing to the gate, a flight attendant announced to the travelers that a group of special heroes travelled on the airplane. He asked the folks to give a round of applause to show the love and appreciation for the service and sacrifices of our military. The cabin immediately echoed with a thunderous roar of handclapping and cheering. While deplaning, I cordially thanked the flight attendants for the acknowledgement and received a, "We just love you guys." 

The final occurrence recognized our nation's armed forces. The Red, White and Blue Day of the 2008 Elizabeth Stampede and Rodeo was dedicated to recognizing the Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force. The day began with the presentation of each service flag accompanied by the service song. A contingency of the Douglas County Young Marines marched in and provided a short demonstration of their talents. Testimonials were given for a World War II veteran, a Desert Storm and Shield Army couple, and an Operation Iraqi Freedom Marine. During the Empty Saddles tribute, riders tethered unmanned horses devoted to fallen comrades and a pair of Toby Keith tunes played in the background, "American Soldier" and "Taliban Song." One honored an Army master sergeant and displayed his service uniform. Another paid homage to an Army staff sergeant with only his helmet. The announcer shared that his family did not want to add anything else materially but asked that all remember and pray for those in harm's way. 

Thank you for allowing me to share these slices of life with you. Again, is patriotic appreciation alive or dead? You be the judge.