The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Veterans' Day 2016

by Elaine Slater Reese - Spring Green, Wi.

Elaine Reese is a freelance writer who grew up in Hancock County, Illinois and considers that home even though she has now lived in Spring Green, Wisconsin for over 25 years. She says "The Quill" always keeps her updated.

It was late and I was tired. I didn't even notice as I pushed the shopping cart up and down the aisles that music was playing.

But, all at once, I realized I was singing along with the lyrics to one of my favorite old tunes - Harry Belafonte's Banana Boat Song (Day-O).

I was oblivious to anyone who might be near. I was just belting out those words - Day-O, Day-O, morning come and I wanna go home!

But then, I heard another man's voice. He was across the aisle from me and being just as vocal as I was. He didn't seem to notice me.

As I walked toward him, I smiled and said, "We better be careful. If we sing this too loudly, everyone will know how old we are." He appeared to stare a hole through me as if I were a spirit from another planet. Then he looked straight into my eyes and quietly said, "We sang that song every single day we were in Viet Nam."

In the deafening silence that followed, I realized that I was standing on hallowed ground.

I prayed, "God, give me the right words to respond." And all I heard was "Just say 'thank you'".

I waited a few moments. "Thank you, Sir. Thank you for what you have given to America and to each of us."

It was then that the tears rolled down his cheeks. But he held his head high, smiled, and nodded as he turned and walked away.

Taking time to sincerely thank each veteran we meet or know should not only be required. It should be the desire of our heart.