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Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Do I Carry a Mark?

This is Steven Petrick posting.

I have been out of the service for more than two and a half decades.

Despite, that it seems that its presence still adheres.

Not too long ago I came up on a pair of individuals who were blocking the aisle of the supermarket. They were moving, not stationary, but being on both sides of their cart I could not get past them. I was not in any real hurry (no urgent rush), but wanted to get where I needed to be, i.e., finish this task and move on.

So I resorted to a very polite "pardon me" just to get their attention that someone wanted pass them.

They turned, looked at me for barely a second, and literally "snapped to."

Once I was passed them, one of them asked if I had been in the Army.

Not the only time that has happened.

Not too long ago I, as is my habit, stopped to hold a door for a lady coming up behind me.

As she went through the door, she complimented me on my "uniform" before doing a double take and realizing that I was in shorts and sandals.

There was an even more recent incident.

Standing in line at the grocery store on a later date I saw an individual with his "Vietnam Veteran" hat. He looked at me gave a "sort of salute," which I returned. He looked again and rendered a more formal salute, at which point I "snapped to" and rendered a formal and correct salute. At which point he came across the lines to ask me about my service.

I cannot, myself, point to it. I tend to think of myself as simply "short, fat, and ugly" (recently adding "balding" to the list). And, yes, I have almost always kept my hair relatively short compared to the norm (but have never, except for the mandatory haircut at jump school, had "white walls"), and mostly I am clean shave except for the mustache which is generally kept "in regulation" (e.g., not exceeding the corners of my mouth).

But somehow it often seems that strangers, who do not know me, recognize that I have spent time in the Army, and not just that I spent time, but that I had rank.