Nine years ago, 9-11, God say that date to any American and we are brought back to the horrific events of that day.
We went to a Toby Keith Concert in Manassas, VA on 9/11/10. If anyone is aware of the performer Toby Keith, you will know that he is so patriotic that it is mind boggling. We have known all year that the concert on the 11th would be entirely patriotic. Prior to attending I was aware that the patrons attending would be pulling out all stops to show their pride in this great country. I was not disappointed.
As Rob and I walked through the crowd to our pavilion seats, there were tons of Tee Shirts sporting the American Flag. Some patrons had small American flags tucked into belt loops. Others carried their rolled up flag under their arms, ready to wave when the time was appropriate.
Rob and I made our way to our seats. Rob was exchanging pleasantries with our friends, catching up on the events since we had last seen them. I like to people watch. Two rows behind me I caught sight of a young marine in his dress uniform. His deep blue jacket was adorned by an array of medals that glistened off of his chest. I saw that one medal, among the many that he had, was a purple heart. I watched as he struggled to make his way down the crowded aisle. He was supporting his weight with two canes, one in each hand. I looked at his face and he could not have been more than in his mid twenties.
This young man, so clean cut, so young and so very injured deserved to be treated with respect. He should have been in a seat of honor, not behind me, but in front of me. He deserved more.
I rose from my seat and started to applaud. Rob looked at me and followed my line of sight; wordlessly he also stood, took of his baseball cap and started to clap for this man. I was proud to see that my entire row watching us, also caught sight of this brave man. They too stood and applauded. Before I knew it I could see the entire section of 101 raise to their feet, turning to gaze at this man and show their respect. The ovation continued, the remaining pavilion sections rose to their feet, and even those in the lawn area up on the hill, although they could not see clearly who we were honoring, knew in their hearts that this was the right thing to do. Twenty thousand plus stood to honor this man.
He stopped, stunned and looked around him as the noise level and cheers grew in volume. I was close enough to see the blush of embarrassment raise the color from his neck to his cheeks, turning a rosy red. His wife, placed her had upon his forearm and looked adoringly up at his face, the tears flowing freely from her eyes. He ducked his head and looked away shyly as the roar of the crowd continued. He slowly took his left cane and placed it in his right hand. His wife placed her arm around his waist, lending her support to his unsteady stand. He looked around awestruck at the greeting he was getting. He raised his left hand and tipped his cap to the audience. I thought the noise was loud before, it became deafening after his acknowledgement. I know we stood there cheering this man for a good five minutes, as he quietly resumed his slow walk to his seat.
As the crowd returned to their own devises, I was still aware of him sitting behind me. I watched as a member of Jiffy Lube Pavilion’s management staff made their way to his aisle. I saw this man knell before my Marine and quietly speak to him and his wife. I watched with pride as they moved him from my pavilion seats, which are really good, to the front row in the orchestra section.
As I stated earlier, Toby Keith is a patriotic man. During his performance, he made his way to the front of the stage where my Marine and his wife were enjoying the show. Toby knelt down on the stage and extended his hand to my Marine. Toby then clasped the Marine’s hand and pulled him on stage with him. He shook his hand and helped the Marine’s wife on stage to stand beside him. The crowd went wild. I was proud to see this man honored in such a manner. Toby directed him to a group of veterans that he was honoring from Walter Reed Medical Center. At the forefront of the end of the performance, even the other veterans pushed and guided my Marine to the center stage. It was absolutely wonderful.
I want to thank this man and all the other Military, law enforcement officers and firefighters who stand in the way of danger to save me. Thank you, for standing guard for me. Thank you for withstanding the heat of the desert, the cold of the rain and sleepless nights defending me and mine. Thank you for being willing to enter a fire to save another human. Thank you for guarding me during storms and national emergencies. Thank you for watching out for me and going without a hot meal. Thank you for working on a holiday when you should be at home celebrating with your family, giving me the opportunity to enjoy mine. Thank you so much for everything that you do unselfishly for me, for protecting me, for dying for me. Thank you for being there. God Bless.