DEAR ABBY: I am a veteran of World War II. I have a bumper sticker on my vehicle announcing a past reunion of my Army unit. Recently, while shopping, I was approached by an employee of the firm I was in who asked me, "Did you serve, sir?" I replied that I had, indeed, served in WWII. The young man then said, "I would like to thank you, sir, for what you did for our country."
I was stunned. In 55 years, this is the first time I have ever been thanked by a fellow American.
I lost three friends at Normandy, one of whom died at my side. When I look back at the fulfilling life that I have enjoyed in this country that I love, I regard with lasting sorrow the memory of those friends who were denied that opportunity.
The considerate words uttered by that young man meant more to me than I could ever convey to him. In some manner, the pain of remembrance has been made less painful by his kindness.
I returned to visit that young man and gave him my combat medic's badge as a token of my gratitude. -- OSCAR ORTIZ, SAN FRANCISCO
DEAR OSCAR: Because you chose to write this letter, countless veterans will be able to read that young man's words. Memories fade, but the printed word often outlives the writer. Thank you for sharing that rewarding encounter.