Welcome Home!

As promised, here is the story of my first “Welcome home!”  It started with:

A little girl of about ten years of age got up from her table with her mother at the local Shari’s Restaurant, and walking the full length of the establishment, shyly approached me as I was entering the business. Upon reaching me she offered me her hand as in the typical way of a handshake.  At the time I didn’t know what it was she wanted so I took her hand and shook it with a friendly smile on my face. 

She must have seen my “Vietnam Veteran” hat because she then looked me directly in the eyes and said, “Welcome home!”  My smile faded, my jaw dropped and the tears started!   I couldn’t help myself.  I told her, “Thank you very much and you’re a very nice little lady for saying so” as the tears welled up in my eyes.  She turned and quickly walked away.  I watched as she retreated to a booth on the far side of the restaurant also occupied by a woman I took to be her mother.  Looking to the mother, she turned and directed her gaze toward me.  I smiled and mouthed a silent “Thank you”.  She nodded in acknowledgment and smiled in return.

Although wobbly on my cane I turned to find my wife beside me, she had seen the whole thing.  Seeing the tears in my eyes and without a word, she placed her hand on my cheek in understanding for the emotions that I was feeling.  She silently led me to our booth for our noon-time meal.  After thirty-eight years, this was the first “Welcome Home” I ever received.  And the most memorable.  I have been “Welcomed home” a total of four times including this one occasion and every time it has meant a lot to me because every time I knew that the person saying it, honestly meant it.

It is a type of closure for many of the veterans that were in Southeast Asia during those years.  I can only hope that other Veterans can find this closure also by finally being told, “Welcome Home!”  Please, if you know of any Veterans, Vietnam or elsewhere, take the time to “Welcome him home” and while you’re at it, tell him “Thank you for your service.”  May He bless them all!



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