Today I Met The Finest.

Today my wife talked me into going to our Veterans Center for the annual breakfast. Senator Norm Coleman and our Governor, Tim Palenty, were scheduled to speak. I agreed that I should go to meet and gripe at my republican legislators.

I arrived at the breakfast to find a large group of people, old and young. There were young Marines and soldiers in their dress blues. All ranks and all services serving the people that were there. There were many old gentlemen in their American Legion dress. I was served by a strong tall Marine who thanked me for my service (I had my Nam Vet hat on, that my son bought for me). I told him, "No son! I thank you". The tears started there.

I found a seat with a group of "old men" that were decked out in red. I didn't know what that stood for. Well, I learned real quick. They were prisoners of war during WWll. On their caps they proudly wore the name of their Stalag. They welcomed me and we talked of their adventures. It seems that they escaped three times, only to be recaptured. They laughed, laughed mind you when they told me that they thought they were closer to a border than they really were. When I asked them what happened to them when they were recaptured, they all stopped, looked into their coffee for a moment then changed the subject.

I met three old Marines that were members of the Chosin Few. Survivers of the battle of the Chosin Reserviour in North Korea. Look that battle up on the Web and you'll find a story that will break your heart.

I met a man in a wheel chair, he had no legs. He was a survivor of Pearl Harbor. He was aboard the USS Hawk, and was blown overboard. I met a tall white haired man, dressed very well. He had but one thing on that was of military vintage. It was an Army Air Corps officer's had, that had a 50 mission crush. He was a bomber pilot in the war. I met two old sailers that served the entire war aboard the USS Yorktown. The ship that the Japanese couldn't sink. Their pride shined through their wrinkled faces.

There were a Gathering of Eagles there as well. Nam Vets all. We talked and I admired their bikes and we stopped to remember those that were not there.

One old Vet came up to me and said he was sorry. Sorry because he and his didn't stand up for me and mine after Viet Nam. I told him that we had stand on our own, we had our war and we had to defend it ourselves. I thanked him for the thought. He was still sorry. That doesn't matter.

As I stood in that hall I realized that I was in the company of real greatness and I didn't bring much to the table. I saw a young Marine, in his blues, head held high, body straight and strong. He was walking with a crutch, and couldn't talk very well. He got hit in the head in Iraq. You could see the scars. But you could also see the pride in his deep brown eyes. I told him "Thank You", he looked at my hat and struggled out...Thank You. I lost it!

There was a very good orchestra. Military music. When they got to the Marine Corps hymn the injured Marine struggled to his feet, none of his Marine buddies would help him, he wouldn't have taken help anyway. They all sang the words to the entire hymn, at the end they gave a rousing UH RHA!

The politicians spoke and as I sat there I wanted to jump up and say, "Don't you pander the these brave men. Don't you ever. Can you see the price that has been paid for our libery in the room? Can you ever be as brave as these men? I don't think so".

This is the first time I ever went to one of these things. It won't be the last. There are great men out there that fought to save this country. I am proud of what I fought for in Viet Nam, but these guys saved the world. When they are asked why they did it, they gave the same answer that my father did when I asked him that question...."somebody had to do it".

Tonight I'll drink a toast to all the men that I served with, to my father (101st, D-day +1) and all the brave men I met today, and to all the brave men that gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Look at your greeter at your local Wal-Mart he just may have an old uniform shoved back in closet somewhere with a Metal of Honor stuck on it. These "old men" saved the world and never asked anything for their service but a job and a chance to be back home. Dear God, let me be as great and as humble as the fine Americans.

I saw a cartoon yesterday. There was a little boy standing next to his father watching a parade. The parade had some old men in American Legion dress marching, some on walkers. The little boy asked his dad, "who are those old men daddy"? His father replies, "Heros son"! That is the truth.

Thank your nearest Veteran. Freedom, it isn't free and it's brought to you by the ordinary American Hero, and I'm proud to be a member of that brotherhood.

God bless America, and God give us the courage of our fathers.