For five years I lived in San Diego, California. San Diego is unique in that the entire area is dotted with military bases. Military life infuses the culture, the way of life, the soul of the city. Anywhere you live in the city, it is very likely one or more of your neighbors is either active military or some kind of military contractor. Hence the sensitivity you acquire for the challenges military families face and an appreciation of what they do and the service they offer to the country.
The military presence in Miami is small, with the exception of the Southern Command in Doral, you can sometimes see the soldiers jogging shirtless along 36th street during the lunch hour. Not a bad sight. Of course there's fleet week....but that's more of a Lauderdale thing.
Anyway, I was having breakfast at La Carreta on 8th street this morning and as I was being seated I saw this extremely attractive young man sitting at the table behind me. He may have been in his mid to late twenties. He was with an older gentleman, father perhaps, and he was talking about is experiences since returning from Afghanistan. I could only catch bits and pieces of his conversation but he became very emotional about his "homecoming". The one thing that struck him, were his experiences in college since he returned. He said: "people don't thank me for my service, the first thing they ask me about my experiences in Afghanistan was how many people I killed." His handsome brow wrinkles in frustration. " I mean I can understand a 10 year old asking that kind of question, but adults?" His eyes mist, he excuses himself and goes to the restroom.
At that point I teared up too. I could see this young man in pain, that he could be my son, or anyone's son. He volunteered his life, freedom so that we could have ours. How have we as a society, become so insensitive to the sacrifices that our veterans, which walk among us in our own tropical urban jungle, make for us. I can't remember feeling such shame for my fellow Americans who have caused this guy so much pain.
There is an etiquette for asking people about their military service. It's simple: Thank you, thank you, thank you, for your service.