A Veteran and a Gift

I walked into work today to find a gift certificate to The Plaza on my desk.

Well. It was in my keyboard. Along with the crumbs of countless cheddar jalapeno bagels and the dried remains of sneezes past.

It’s pretty biohazardous in there, if I’m honest.

The gift certificate was from someone I interviewed last week. A Vietnam veteran.

I was stoked when I found out that this guy wanted to tell me anything – at all – about his service. I’ve interviewed lots and lots of WWII veterans.

The Vietnam guys, like the war they fought, are a whole different breed. Understandably. This 23 year old man, and I say man with a capital fucking M you guys, already had a wife and a home when he was drafted to go into a war that neither he nor anyone else who found themselves there was prepared to fight, let alone to recover from.

The fact that he wanted to talk to me at all was a gift. I’ve asked Vietnam vets before for interviews and always been politely but swiftly turned down.

I got an article and a column out of the short conversation he and I had, but beyond that I got a better understanding of one man’s experience, and directions to a website where I could read more firsthand accounts and look at point-of-view photographs of what these men saw on the ground during their time at war and coming home.

In absolutely no way, whatsoever, was a gift necessary, Mr. Swick. But thank you. Because in the end I’m just a girl looking at a souvlaki asking it to be my husband.

Happy late Memorial Day, kids. I’ll let the pieces I wrote tell the rest of the story.

Oh, and if you’re interested, last week’s column column is up. The regular ol’ column.

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