Consuming the daily diet of misery given us by the news media or viewing of political memes and posts on Facebook can really drain a person of hope for humanity and the future of our nation. While I know exactly who I am in Jesus Christ and that I have nothing to worry about regarding the future, the enemy certainly is relentless in his attempts to undermine my faith with a daily onslaught of bad news both locally, and from around the globe. Without actually interacting with people it’s easy to believe everyone is evil, and honor is dead.
Yesterday, I had an encounter with a stranger, brother, while traveling at 60+ mph on Interstate 5 South between Seattle and Olympia. This brief exchange restored a great deal of hope in my fellow American. Here’s what took place.
I was riding my motorcycle in the carpool lane when a black VW Golf slowly overtook me in the fast lane to my right. The driver was a young man in his lower 20’s. He pulled just past me, looking in his mirrors, then slowed back down and paced me for a moment. I called this man a stranger, brother, for what he did next completely took me by surprise. He slowly, deliberately, rendered me a very proper military salute. I was astonished. My motorcycle license plate is a Washington State specialty version available to current and former US Army members. Mine has the special sticker, “Retired” on the bottom as I retired in 2006. After rendering his salute the young man then pulled out of his wallet his Active Duty ID card and showed me that he is my brother; a man who like me loves our country and our countrymen enough to enlist in one of the most dangerous professions possible.
I pointed out that this young man took the time to pull just past me and look into his mirrors. I believe he was looking to see if I had a JBLM vehicle registration sticker on my bike. These stickers not only prove that a vehicle is registered with the intallation police, but they are color coded indicating wether an individual is enlisted, officer, or a civilian contractor. Mine indicates that I was an officer at the time of my retirement. I was taught when just a Private E-1, yes that was a long time ago at the hight of the Cold War, that a salute should be rendered to the car regardless of who’s driving just to be sure proper honor is given to those who have earned a higher rank. Over my 21 years of involvement with the military I saw that tradition fade and cars are no longer saluted based solely on sticker color. A lot of honor and tradition has faded within and external to the military. While there have been efforts towards change, our heroes generally aren’t given the honor they deserve, children are less apt to honor their parents and people in general aren’t overly honoring to each other.
This young man of distinction in just a few moments comunicated to me through a military salute while driving down the interstate that honor is not dead, and common people still do uncommon things. This simple statement of respect let me know hope is alive within the ranks of our military and the youth of today. To this young man, I salute you. To this young man’s parents, I solute you as well, for you have taught him well and he has given me a glimpse of what is possible for our nation provided my generation takes care to water and nurture it’s growth.