The People I Meet

by
Charles Martin

It never fails to amaze me. Yesterday in Beaufort South Carolina, I met a woman who’s husband had been a trader on the 105th floor of the Towers.  She was okay.  Healing.  Her daughter, too.  A few minutes later, I met Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.  Signed a book for him.  But, it was a guy I met in Highlands, North Carolina that has got me writing.

He was elderly, handsome, wearing a Miami Hurricanes baseball cap.  His wife was holding his hand.  I said, “You a Hurricane fan?”

He nodded and smiled.

They were both tanned.  “You from Miami?”

He nodded again, “Yup, 84 years now.  All except a small detour to Europe called World War II.”

“Really?”  I took one step closer.  I wanted to ask but I wasn’t quite sure how.  “What…what did you do in the war?”

“Well, I landed at a place called Omaha Beach and from there we followed the 101st.”

That’s about when it struck me that I was standing next to one of the Great Ones.  One of the guys that saved the world.  I fumbled over myself.  Didn’t know what else to say.  “You…uh, ever been back.”  I wanted to take it back.  What a stupid thing to say.

“Yup…”  He glanced past me.  Several thousand miles down Main Street.  “We go back every five years on the anniversary of D-Day.  Alot of us do.  Although that lot of us is getting smaller all the time.”

His wife tucked her arm inside his.  “We’ve already bought our tickets.” She patted him on the shoulder.  “He’ll be eighty-five.”

I put my hand on his shoulder.  What could I say?  How pathetic would I sound?  I’m three feet from one of the heroes of history now dressed in wrinkly, spotted skin.  “Sir…for what you did…for who your are…I thank you.”

He smiled and his eyes glassed over.

It’s the people I meet.

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