Over ten years ago I met George Brown and his friend. We were at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
My family and I first saw the World War II memorial late at night. It is an impressive memorial of stone and cement, but it wasn’t my favorite of all the soldier memorials. That is until we went the next morning in the daylight and it was filled with World War II veterans. The veterans gave the memorial soul and beauty.
I saw George and his comrade sitting on the bench and asked if I could take their picture. They granted permission and after I took the picture, I offered to send them a copy. George gave me his e-mail address, and I thanked the men for their military service. George winked and said, “We’d fight for you any day, ma’am.” Chivalry. Pure chivalry.
Two weeks later I sent George this e-mail: Dear George, I took this picture of you a couple of weeks ago at the WW II memorial. I just love it. Every time I see it, it makes me smile. Thank you for letting me take it and thank you for serving all of us in the military. Best wishes to you always, Jane Payne
George replied: Dear Jane: You made me a winner. As soon as you took our photo, my friend said, “You will never get that picture.” I told him I was positive I will get that picture, so I am going to send him a copy and I am certain there will be some groveling on his part. Thank you. I am sorry we are a continent apart; I would love to take you to dinner. You are a different breed! With gratitude, George Brown
George and I corresponded back and forth for a few years and then suddenly, there were no more answers to my emails, and I suppose that George passed on. I missed his emails and hoped his obituary or eulogy recognized his years of service to freedom.
Every Veteran’s day, I think of George Brown and the millions of men and women who have been/and are willing to lay aside personal comforts and agendas to defend liberty. I share his story with my students, who are nearly the same age as George was when he served our country.
We had never lived in a time that requires more courage and chivalry of our young people than the time in which we currently live. What stories of men and women in your history and experience can you share with the younger generation within your realm of influence this week?