September 01, 2005

Never know where a little courtesy will lead you

There I was, this morning, standing on line at the bank, when an older man got on line behind me. On his lapel, he was wearing a CIB -- a Combat Infantry Badge, an honor given to those who have served in combat. I am a respectful sort by nature. My mom kind of beat that into me. So, I asked this man if he'd like to go in front of me on line and we had the following conversation:

Me: I see that you are wearing the CIB. May I offer you my place in line?

Him: That's very kind of you. I'm also 91 years old.

Me: Well, you certainly don't look it. [And he really didn't]

Him: Yes, I was 30 years old in WW II.

Me: Is that where you earned your CIB?

Him: Sure was. I fought at Omaha Beach and with Patton. I was even with British troops during the Battle of the Bulge. They were something else. Can you believe that every day at 4:00, they stopped their tanks, got out, and made tea? Couldn't believe it. Tea. They were tough little bastards, though, gotta give 'em that.

And with that, he was called to the next teller, although he thanked me for letting him cut ahead and we shook hands. I actually shook hands with someone who fought at Omaha Beach. Like I said in the title to this, you never know where courtesy is going to lead you or what interesting conversations you can have. That bit about the Brits was, I thought, priceless.

Posted by Random Penseur at September 1, 2005 11:35 AM | TrackBack

That is a brilliant story, RP.

Posted by: MCNS at September 1, 2005 05:24 PM

God, I love talking to old soldiers. Most of 'em still get an wicked gleam in their eye when they reminisce. It must've been something to be a part of that.

Kudos for giving him your spot-

Posted by: Rob at September 1, 2005 09:48 PM

What a great story!

Posted by: Kathy at September 2, 2005 12:17 AM

Great story RP. When I was a teen I used to get tired of hearing my Uncles' war stories, from ships in the Pacific to war wounds at Bastogne . . . until one day I realized exactly what they meant to them and to those of us who followed.

BTW-you mentioned gmail trouble. Hope you got my 2nd email. I will resend just in case.


Posted by: Ivan at September 2, 2005 08:29 AM

What a wonderful brush with history. I would have loved to have had coffee w/that guy.

Posted by: michele at September 2, 2005 10:26 AM

Definitely priceless. It makes me think of the story (was it real?) that on Christmas Day the English and the Germans played football (soccer) in the space between their encampments....

Posted by: Hannah at September 3, 2005 09:04 AM
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