When my brother and I visited my Grandma Conly it was a pretty special event. Her and Grandpa owned a small Motel and video rental place. So, when we visited we had our pick of movies to watch. We also would roam the aisles looking at VHS sleeves with pictures from the movies on the back hoping to find some pictures of half naked women. It got to the point where we knew the good movies but not the point here.
The other, really cool bonus to staying with Grandma was that she would often take us to McDonald's in the morning for breakfast. We loved it. However, one morning would become a legendary child's tale and one of my favorite memories.
On this particular morning, while staying at Grandma's, we woke up to the good news, we'd be going to McDonald's for breakfast. We loaded into my Grandma's maroon Buick and headed to our favorite place.
We ordered breakfast and sat down at the little tables by the front door and the large windows that showed the parking lot outside. This McDonald's had the plastic chairs that would swivel, slightly from side-to-side and were connected to a metal structure and bolted to the ground. We happily chowed down on our hash browns and sipped our morning, O.J. It was a fun morning like many we had had before, at the same Mc-ee-dees but everything was about to change.
We weren't paying attention outside as the parking lot filled with vehicles from an Army caravan that was stopping for breakfast at the very same McDonald's where we sat. The double doors shuttered as the outer door opened. I quickly glanced up and saw an "Army guy"! A real Army guy! Fully clothed in camo and wearing shiny black combat boots laced tightly over his camo pants. He entered and we froze, but that one Army guy was just the beginning. The doors remained open as one soldier after another poured into the McDonald's. They ordered and to our excitement and disbelief they all began to fill the tables and booths that surrounded us. It seemed there must have been hundreds. We looked outside and saw a parking lot full of awesome Army cars as well; Big antennas pinned to the sides, Hummers and canopied trucks. We were in a different world. This just simply didn't happen in the REAL world. Not in our world. Army guys weren't real guys who sat near us and ate at the same McDonald's as our Grandma's McDonald's! But there they were, eating, laughing and talking.
Paul and I had forgotten about our food. Our eyes were wide and our jaws were hanging and had been from the moment we saw the first Army guy. I locked my eyes on an African American soldier who had been joking with the other guys and laughing loudly as he made his way to an open table near us. He must have noticed my brother and I frozen in amazement at the sight of so many soldiers. Then to my disbelief he smiled and said, "hi!"... to us! He was talking to us! I believe I was able to squeak out a "hi" back. My brother doing the same. Then he held out his hand for a high-five. An Army guy was giving us high-fives! After he acknowledged us the floodgates opened. Every soldier in the entire place began to say hi to us. They greeted my Grandma kindly. They joked with us and we shook hands or gave fives to every Army guy there.
It was one of the coolest times in my life. I will always remember that morning. We hung out with Army guys and they thought we were cool. It doesn't get any better for a young boy.
Thank you to all of those members that have served in the United States Military and those who are still serving. I keep you all in my prayers and I truly appreciate the sacrifices you and your families make for our safety and security. And thank you for making a couple of young kid's morning one of the best, EVER!