Thursday, February 22, 2007

Thanks, America!

It’s been over two years since this Vietnam veteran returned from duty in Iraq. I traveled to an Army seminar this past week and I had to pass through three separate airports. When I was preparing to fly out of Orlando, the Delta Airlines clerk at the gate asked to see my ticket. I gave it to her, she handed it back to me and I asked her if everything was O.K. She said everything was fine.

I didn’t know until I entered the plane that she had switched my seat to first class. I was pleasantly surprised, but regretted that I didn’t have a chance to thank her.

On my return to Orlando, I was in uniform and waiting for my flight in Atlanta when another Delta employee wanted to look at my ticket. She asked me if I had been to Iraq and I said yes. A few minutes later, she announced over the public address system that she would be boarding Iraq veteran SFC Charles Grist before the rest of the passengers.

I was stunned when the entire waiting area of over a hundred people broke into applause – for me. I was embarrassed, humbled and I got another one of those doggoned lumps in my throat.

All I could do was turn to the crowd, salute them and get on the plane. While I will always remember the unpleasant way I was treated upon my return from Vietnam, I will never forget how my fellow citizens welcomed me home this time.

When you greet an American service member or thank them for their service, don’t ever think that it’s a small thing. You have validated their sacrifices and warmed their hearts with the realization that they are appreciated. They are grateful beyond words.

Thankfully, this generation understands that the warrior is not the war. Hal Moore of “We Were Soldiers” fame said “Hate war, but love the warrior”. No matter how you feel about the politics of the war, remember that the warriors are just doing their jobs – for you.

Thanks, America, for your genuine love and your continuing support. Your warriors appreciate you just as much as you appreciate them.

SFC Chuck Grist


  1. followed a link from Bear Creek Ledger.

    I had tears in my eyes reading this post. Stories like these give me hope that not everyone in this country is listening to the negatives spewed by so many.

    I will be linking to this from my blog. (I am co-authoring a blog for 2 tankers that are deployed. A few of us readers are keeping it going while they are in the sandbox!)

  2. Also here from Tanker Brothers. THANK YOU Sgt. We know, you are just doing your job...but there are those of us out here who know and appreciate you and that job that you do. God Bless.

  3. Hello SFC Grist!
    I am also here from the TankerBrothers site.
    May I also say something to you, I did not say in 1973?
    Well done. Thank you for your service. Welcome Home! I pray you will forgive me for the delay.

    I am so glad you posted this. So many of us are so grateful to our troops. I am so glad you felt the love firsthand!

    Very best regards,
    Donna, Los Osos, CA

  4. Also from TB!!

    This is an amazing post and I think it's wonderful that people can do these things to show they care.

    SFC Grist, you are truly a Warrior and so deserving of this respect.

  5. FC Grist, I too served stateside during Viet Nam in the Corps. I know first hand how badly you guys were treated. Even those of us stateside were treated bad. To fight in a war, risk your life, and then be treated as sub-human is a crime.

    I promise you I make every effort to make sure no one forgets how you were all treated. I make every effort to make sure you all continue to be treated well now. Even though your beautiful experience is happening all over America, there are those who have had hand jestures made, coffee thrown on them, and other insults.

    The same people, a little older, and some new faces, using different acronyms, different, more politically correct terminiology are behind the present anti-war sentiment and marches. I leave noi stone unturned to expose these people for who and what they really are and want to accomplish.

    Finally, FOX News has begun to openly say much of what I write about. Will I stop, heck no! It makes me even more intent in purpose. One, you guys all deserve better than what happened during Vietnam. Second, Iraq is nothing like Vietnam.

    Vietnam did not want us destroyed. They weren't after world domination. They didn't declare war on America over twenty years ago.

    I get so discouraged sometimes but refuse to give up my quest. You briong joy to my heart. Your post says maybe all the negativity I hear all the time isn't "flying" as much with the public as the "Media," some "politicians," and the "polls" want us to believe.

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I am so proud of you and all our troops for what you have all accomplished in Iraq and Afghanistan. When I hear about renewed attacks, an increase in attackers, and such, I don't see it as a failure. I see that you guys are succeeding. You're making the enemy fight your war instaed of fighting theirs.

    Thank you and all of you for your sacrifices and your service. Thank you families too. God bless you all.

  6. I'm convinced that most Americans are ashamed of the way they treated Vietnam era vets.
    It took an attack on our home soil for them to really understand the value of our bravest.


  7. SFC Grist,

    That was an awesome post!
    Thanks for sharing it.


    Steve Johanson