This past summer, my wife and I had a chance to get away for a few nights in Savannah, Georgia. It was the first time I had ever been. Savannah in the summer was quite hot and sticky. It didn’t matter as our hotel had a pool and there were plenty of places to stop in the afternoons to grab an adult beverage.
One of those afternoons, my wife and I were looking for a place with a good view and cold drinks. There was a bar on the second floor of the building with balconies to people watch. We headed up to grab a couple of cold drinks. Only one table on the balcony was available. It was next to two men dressed in full biker garb. They had some military patches on their leather vests. From the looks of it, they were both in the Middle East serving in the early 90s.
I hesitated at first, then asked if the table next to them was available. The older of the two said yes with a grizzly yet kind voice. He grabbed his empty that was on that table and motioned for us to sit down. I said thank you and my wife and I sat with our drinks we got at the bar. As my wife and I were talking, I was sort of listening in to the bikers behind us. They were laughing and joking with each other. Some of it was a little crude and over the top. I was wondering if my wife was uncomfortable. Just as that thought entered my head, both men leaned over and apologized to my wife for being a bit vulgar. She said it was okay and not a problem. The older man said that he is just an honest guy and speak what's on his mind at the time.
This was enough to engage us into a conversation with the two guys. As we talked about who we were and where we were from, I found out these two were war Veterans who served in the Gulf War. They spoke a lot about their biker club and how they have national camping trips with all the members. All the members are veterans of the Iraqi war. I cruised nonchalantly over to the bar and grabbed two beers and gave them to the two veterans and thanked them for their service. They shook my hand and said, “you’re welcome brother.”
The conversation continued. They spoke of how they supported each other all the time. I wondered what they experienced in the war. I wondered if they saw death and destruction. I have read many accounts of the Gulf War and was shocked at how much was never reported. I had a feeling these two past soldiers saw that firsthand.
Overall the conversation was light and happy. We all laughed a lot and learned about each other’s families. It was a nice conversation. About an hour later, one of the man's wife was texting him to come home. He wanted to hang out some more, but his buddy said he needed to get back home. As they left, we shook hands and they both gave my wife a hug goodbye. I thought about who we thought these men were when we came into the bar and who they ended up being after conversing for an hour. These were not scary biker dudes. They are people. They are soldiers. They are heroes. They are our veterans.
I wish I could've thanked them more.
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