When Margaretta’s eighth grade class headed to Washington, D.C. this spring, Stein Hospice wanted to help the students reach out to Veterans. Stein Hospice, based in Sandusky, Ohio, gave the students “Thank you for your service” bracelets and asked the students to hand them out to Veterans they met during their trip. Noah Esposito, 14-year-old son of a Stein Hospice employee, shared his experience with us when he got back.
I was in a gift shop and saw a man with a hat that said “Marines.” I went up and said “Excuse me sir, have you served in the military?” He turned to me and said, “Yes I have.” I told him “Thank you for your service,” and proceeded to give him the bracelet. The Veteran said “No you keep it,” I said “But sir it's for you.” The man gave it back and asked me if I knew why he served. I was puzzled. “I want you to keep the bracelet to remember I served for you, and for your family to be free and safe today.” That brought a tear to my eye. I wiped my eyes and he hugged me.
The next Veteran I thanked was at the Vietnam wall. As we were leaving I spotted a Veteran and went over to thank him. Something was different about this man; unlike the others he had a hat on that said “Vietnam Veteran.” I asked if he served in the military and he said yes, then I asked if he served in Vietnam, and he said he had. “Welcome home,” I said. He said that when he got home he had never heard anyone say that to him. He began to tear up, and then I felt bad. It turns out he was crying from happiness because I was the first one to welcome him home. That experience made me realize how important it is to welcome home a Vietnam Veteran.
Thanking a Veteran has changed the way I looked at the people who serve our country. Before my school trip to Washington, D.C., I had never thanked a Veteran, doing it for the first time made me nervous, but it turned out to be a great feeling. From now on when I see a Veteran I will be sure to thank him or her. Thanking a Veteran to me is a great feeling that will always stay with me, and I will encourage everyone to say “Thank you” to a Veteran.