To the soldier at Krispy Kreme

We must've seemed silly to you, all dressed up in pirate garb, just to earn a free dozen donuts.  You looked a bit perplexed.  You wondered why there was such a long line at 9 PM when the red HOT light wasn't even on.  When I explained, you just shook your head and looked away.  Your wife shared that you had just returned from a tour in Afghanistan.  I thanked you for your service and asked if I could shake your hand.  You were gracious.  A few other costume-clad Jack Sparrows chimed in and told you "thanks".  But the focus on you was short-lived.  All attention returned to the delicious smelling circles of dough bobbing up in the grease, waiting to drain a bit before being doused in the liquid sugar at the next phase of the donut assembly line. 

I lost my interest in the glazed treasures, thinking about your re-entry to American life.  I wanted to get out of line and join you in the back and ask about your tour.  I wondered how long you'd been gone, what you did...and what you missed while you were gone.  You looked about my age.  Did you miss out on a graduation?  Or a grandbaby being born? Fourth of July picnics and Christmas mornings?  Games between the hedges?  Long walks with  your wife?  A second cup of coffee on Sunday mornings?  Funny little things like Cow Day at Chick-fil-A and Pirate Day at Krispy Kreme?

I'll bet our impatience over long lines for free donuts is more than perplexing to you.  And I wonder if you are bothered when you hear somebody complain about traffic or a slow checkout clerk.  Do we seem self-centered to you when we pay more for a vacation than some folks you served with make in a month? Are you glad you chose to serve our country, to represent a bunch of eye-patch-wearing, sword-holding, donut-eating carefree Americans?

  I hope we aren't ungrateful for the sacrifices you've made to defend what we hold dear. I wanted to say so much to you.  For all of us.  To you and to your family. I felt the urge to climb up on a table and clap for everyone's attention and lead us all in "God Bless America" or a few verses of "The Star Spangled Banner".  Shoot, I'd have settled for "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"!.  But I've embarrassed my kids enough times. And since this time I had only one there and she'd have had to bear the potential pain of my public patriotism alone, I refrained. So I did the only thing I knew to do.  I bought your donuts.  I hope the clerk got my message right when your turn at the cashier came.  I just wanted to say Thanks.