My 22-year-old son is home from deployment in the Middle East, and I finally got the chance to take him to The Old Fisherman's Club for the monthly dinner.
After introducing him to many of my "old" friends and reuniting him with many that he knew, we had as usual the best rib dinner you could ask for. My son had been to the club fishing with me when he was younger, just as I did with my dad, but he didn't really get to know the members.
I didn't clue him in about what was going to happen after dinner, when the Big Bell was rung to silence the 350 or so participants. Everybody became quiet, stood up, removed their caps and proceeded to recite, with loud voices, the pledge of allegiance, including "one nation, under God." My son, with his hand on his heart, was smiling. Grace was then said, which included thanks for the food, but also included thanks for so many things, including our military that keeps us safe and free. My son was still smiling. Then there was a benediction for a member who had passed away since our last dinner and also some prayers for others who are ill. My son now had a somber face, as did the rest of us as we all said Amen.
Later, we had a raffle in which I was lucky enough to "take home the bacon." As we walked to the car, I asked my son what he thought about the evening. He replied that he has always known why he is serving, but this night will always be a high point and will always be a reinforcement of that because he was standing with, in his words, "a truly great group of red-blooded Americans."