The world spins in funny directions sometimes, connecting us with people in unexpected ways. That’s exactly what happened last week after I posted the picture of the little boy saluting a veteran at our local Veteran’s Day parade.
When I took the picture, I was standing across the street from him waiting to catch some pictures of my coworkers who were walking in the parade. I always include the pictures in the company newsletter I write. I had noticed the boy and his group of school children earlier and had smiled as they chanted, “U-S-A” and anxiously awaited the start of the parade. Their signs told me they had traveled from a school about forty minutes from here. Once the parade started, my eyes were trained on the oncoming vehicles and walkers. However, at one point I glanced back over my shoulder to see what was happening in the other direction. Honestly, I think it’s a habit from running in traffic every day and needing to know what’s going on in all directions. As I looked to my rear left, I saw an elderly man in uniform stopping in the street. In front of him was the little boy in mid-salute. With a determined look on his face, the child kept his hand at his forehead until the gentleman saluted back. With one chance at a picture, I quickly raised the old Nikon, focused and snapped, praying the camera settings would handle the shade. One take. No more. It happened that quickly. I got lucky and got a great picture. I don’t even know if anyone else in the crowd realized what happened.
I posted the picture on FaceBook Thursday night and got a wonderful response. Apparently, the salute tugged at other folks’ hearts as much as it did mine. Well, a FaceBook friend of mine who is a real estate agent and travels all over this end of the state posted the picture on his wall. And a FaceBook friend of his who edits the hometown newspaper where the little boy in the picture lives recognized the boy. She tagged his mother so mom could see it on FaceBook. And there mom was, crying on a Friday morning over her little boy’s patriotism and respect for a man he didn’t know but for some reason chose to single out of the crowd and honor with his heartfelt salute. To make a long story short, after some emails and FaceBook friend requests I sent the picture to the mom and to the newspaper editor who asked to print the picture next week. I now know that the little boy wants to join the military when he grows up and understands the sacrifice of veterans because of his uncle’s service in Iraq.
I’m thrilled the picture made so many folks feel so good, and I’m amazed at how small the world can be sometimes. Mama was right. You just never know who you’re going to touch with your own actions. But mostly, I’m just happy to see a member of the younger generation appreciate the sacrifices of our soldiers and sailors. It just makes my heart glow.
Please do not ask me how many times I’ve shed a tear over that dadgum picture in the last 24 hours.
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