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Thursday, February 11, 2016


Important Lessons In My Life
Reflection: Do you remember these bracelets? A POW bracelet (or POW/MIA bracelet) is a nickel-plated or copper commemorative bracelet engraved with the name, rank, and loss date of an American serviceman captured or missing during the Vietnam War. I found one of the many that I had, when I was working at Norton Air Force Base back in the early 70's, when we were moving. This particular young man was never found or I was never notified so I held on to the bracelet usually you return them to the family once their journey came to an end.

I was young back then and trying to work my way through college....I counted and tagged body bags as they came back from the war and made sure that all the correct paperwork went with each warrior as they began their journey home. At night I managed the NCO and Officer Clubs on the base. The point I 'm getting to is, these bracelets taught me a VERY valuable lesson about myself, my life and the people I choose to have in it. We all want to be accepted, we need to be accepted and sometimes how we go about this acceptance can be shallow, selfish and extremely hurtful to others. I felt back then that status was the most important tool to finding or getting acceptance among my peers and one way to have that was being in the circle of only Officers and their friends. When it came time to purchase the MIA/POW bracelets I was adamant I only wanted to wear the bracelet of an officer, to me it was a status symbol and something that made me feel I was one of the elite, the pretty people.

I remember the day, like it was yesterday, when I realized that this simple metal band with a soldiers name on it didn't make me cool or one of the elite because I had chose only officers names to wear....it showed me how incredibly shallow and insensitive I was to my fellow human being.

I was at work organizing my paperwork when a couple came into my office....It was the base Commander and his wife. He was a two star General and she was a Colonel. Each one of them removed a bracelet from their arms and handed it to me. Tears were in their eyes as they told me their warriors had come home and were in the hanger and would I put these bracelets with their paperwork. When they left I looked at the names, they weren't officers they were young privates, each only 19 years of age. Realty hit me right between the eyes then and there. I was all worried about being one of the cool people instead of being just human and caring about humanity as a whole. My life changed dramatically from that point on. I became the richest person I knew, rich from my experiences with my friends and my family. I began to accept people into my life not because of what they could do for me but for what I could do for them.

I'm writing all this because some things never change in our lives but it's how we see it or embrace it is what makes the difference for all involved. Some of the people in my life will never be monetarily rich or live in a immaculate homes or surround themselves with material things....but yet to be with them you see that they are Royalty in their world and embrace life with both hands and enjoy sharing the ride with me....My life has been a full one with peaks and valley's, whose isn't but it is how we look at it is what gives us the wisdom and ability to accept all and look beyond the surface of many. Remember too...bad things happen to good people everyday, don't judge be brave enough to ask questions . Whether you are an officer of life or a soldier, you are a person and we all belong to each other....the value of a person is not established by their accomplishments..... Blessed Be


Glenda said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I was in Junior High when I saved to purchase my bracelet. I wore it for several years checking the newspaper daily. Then one day I realized it was gone. I never took it off so I assumed I I had worn it into. I was sad when I lost it I never found closure for the young man.

Pamela Gracia said...

I lost one that way as well and have never found out anything about the young man. It was a very tough time in our history. Thank you for sharing..

Pam Wiley said...

Sounds like you learned a valuable lesson from the General and his wife. Many people think they are better than others. They are not, and some are far from what they believe they are. We all bleed the same color.
I also had one of the bracelets when I was in Jr High. Unfortunately I do not know whatever happened to it.