Mother Goose Meets a Real Navy SEAL

“Hello? Sir? Excuse me, sir,” Mother Goose was nearly squawking as she wheeled her bicycle into the driveway. The man turned from loading the back of his SUV to see who could be honking at him. Quickly dismounting, Mother Goose stuck out her wing and said, “Sir, I just want to thank you for your service to America!”

When he smiled warmly and shook her hand, Mother Goose knew she had made the right decision to stop and meet this man. His handshake grip was the strongest and friendliest she had ever experienced. Having passed this home countless times in the past two years, I was at an extreme advantage in this meeting. I had seen his American flag flying from the porch next to the POW/MIA flag. It was his Blue Star Banner hanging in his front window that had gotten Mother Goose all in a flap about that old tradition. His car parked in the driveway with the license plate holder that read, “Retired Senior Chief” and his bumper stickers all told the same story: in this home lives a deeply patriotic and retired U.S. Sailor, possibly even a Navy SEAL.

I told him about my twin sons who are training for nuclear operations in the U.S. Navy in Charleston. He was proud to tell me that he had joined the Navy in 1960 and retired in 2000 at an E-8 level, senior chief petty officer and, indeed, a SEAL. My mind whirled around the life he must have experienced.

“So your boys will be going into the bubbles?” he asked with a grin.

Mother Goose stared at him with a blank look on her feathery face and then turned her head to contemplate what he might mean…

“On a submarine?” he graciously clarified for the goose who is rather ignorant of Navy terms.

“Well,” I replied with a thankful smile. “They have gone back and forth on that. Possibly now they’ll want to be on an aircraft carrier, maybe one that ports out in Washington.”

As we chatted back and forth about boot camp and this and that Navy policy, different neighbors walked by us on the sidewalk — moms and kids going to soccer practice and baseball practice, folks walking their dogs, or getting their own exercise in the late afternoon sunshine. He addressed each and every one of them with a cheerful and heartfelt greeting as if he knew each person on the avenue. He smiled fondly at every single one. Later, I thought about this at great length.

This soldier/sailor has knows every form of danger known to humankind — probably fought in the jungles of Vietnam and the deserts of Iraq and possibly the mountains of Afghanistan. He’s certainly survived the most atrocious and fearful situations. The number of SEALS who actually retire is relatively small in the general military population — most just don’t make it. But here he is, smiling at all these neighbors and passersby, including a strange goose on a bike. He seems to have time for everybody.

I wonder if he looks at each and every person he meets as someone he would rescue or protect.

For forty years, it was his job to defend America and bravely serve our nation. To most of us that sounds noble in itself, but what if he doesn’t just view it as service to America, but something much more personal. Maybe he looks at us with such fondness because he was protecting and defending Leslie or Dianna or Debra or Jeff or Erik or Linda or Mark — real people in his neighborhood with real names and faces, with children and dreams and daily occupations.

His name is Bill. He looks like a regular retired guy, but he’s so much more than that. He’s a real hero!

The Blue Star Banner in the window is for his son, a U.S. Marine who has recently returned from tours of Iraq and Afghanistan. Another hero.

Of course, you know Mother Goose…she’ll be privately obsessing about this for awhile. I already downloaded a book from Amazon entitled, Service. It’s the story by Marcus Luttrell of his service to America as a Team 5 Navy SEAL. In just a few weeks, the Act of Valor DVD will be in the stores. Memorial Day is in ten days. My own two sailor sons will be home on leave for a few days later this month.

These guys are looking good, but they are not the sons of Mother Goose…

Mother Goose thinks this is a good place to insert a “call to action”. If you see a uniformed service man or woman, go up to them with your wing extended and thank them for serving America. If you know of a veteran in your neighborhood, thank them for their service. If there’s a military family with kids at your school, get to know them — they have special needs, especially if mom or dad are deployed. Please pray for the safety of our brave soldiers and sailors — pray that wars would cease.

God bless America and God bless you.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bunn
    May 17, 2012 @ 10:30:03

    What a great honor to meet such a man!!

    Reply

  2. Dianna
    May 17, 2012 @ 12:11:49

    Bravo!! What a wonderful, inspiring post, Natalie! My FIL is a WWII veteran (he turned 90 last month): what an amazing man he is. Your post reminded me of one of my son’s favorite sayings: “If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you’re reading it in English, thank a soldier”.

    Reply

  3. Three Well Beings
    May 17, 2012 @ 20:42:35

    What a wonderful pre-Memorial Day post, Natalie. I think it is sometimes hard for those of us with no military background to step forward and start a conversation, but I think you’re right. I am so in awe of those who sacrifice for us in this way that I am almost too shy. I will rethink that! I’m so glad you also shared that your sons will be home for a visit soon! Wonderful! Debra

    Reply

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