The sun warm on my face, my only worry as I sat eating my Chik-fil-A chicken sandwich was having to eventually walk back in the restaurant from the patio for a sweet tea refill. My bird companion, pleased with french-fry crumbs falling through the metal table from my meal, flitted about the rock-stamped cement eating area. Blonde girls holding their daddy’s hands and little boys on their mommy’s hips ducked their heads through the “Red Dwarf” door. Ice dream cones, chicken sandwiches, waffle fries, and large sweet teas made their way through the drive-through.
As I people watched, stuffed my face, and satisfied the lion in my belly, I noticed an elderly couple accompanied by a younger man slowly walker-pushing and shuffling their feet toward their mini-van. The black and yellow baseball-cap on the bald head of the old man set my Veteran radar blaring. Both men helped the lady into the mini-van and I slowly and nervously put one foot in front of the other in their direction.
“Sir?” I squeaked.
“Dad,” his son tapped the baseball cap-wearing man’s shoulder and pointed in my direction.
“Yes?” answered the World War II veteran with grinning eyes.
“I just wanted to say thank you for your service to our country.”
With a smile like a boy, he replied with a finger pointing back at his wife,
“Thank her. She waited on me for three years. Wrote me everyday. I was in the medical core. Stationed in England. I tell you what, I was the luckiest man in World War II.”
“My Great-Grandpa was in World War II. He was in Coast Guard. He fought in the Pacific.”
“Oh, well,” he went on to say as he leaned up against the seat in the mini-van, “I had a brother stationed over in the Pacific. He wrote me one day. He said, ‘I’m about to get tired of these KB rations.”
He paused for the cackle this memory had brought with it.
“I wrote him back and said, ‘Oh, yeah. I hear ya. I had pork-chops and potatoes last night. I’m about to get tired of them, too.”
He had us all laughing in that handicap parking spot.
“Yep, yep I sure was. Luckiest man in World War II.”
Shaking his weathered and thin hand, I said, “Well, thank you for all that you did. Thank you for your sacrifice.”
His dentures flashed and his head gave a proud nod.
“Well, I sure ‘ppreciate it, hun.”
He and his son got in their mini-van and left the parking lot of Southern-fried heaven and I made my way back across the patio.
With the sun warm on my face, my only worry as I sat finishing my sandwich was having to eventually walk back in the restaurant for a sweet tea refill because of the sacrifice of people like that sweet man, his brother, and his wife.