In the spring of 1993 I was stationed in Fort Carson, Colorado outside of Colorado Springs. I was in the Army at the time and had recently returned from a tour of duty in Saudi Arabia. A friend and I were walking through the Old Downtown Corridor. We were just cruising around killing time, waiting for the comic book store to open. I recall that it seemed very frigid but it was probably about 40F or 50F degrees. It was overall a nice day and it was before noon on a Saturday, so there weren't a whole lot of tourists and crazies out yet.
It was about this time that an older man started to approach us. He shambled towards us on the sidewalk looking for all the world like a little gray penguin.
I figured this guy was going to berate us for being punks and shifty young layabouts. He looked like the type of guy who constantly blamed his problems on "those damn kids".
To my utter surprise he offered his hand to me and said "I just wanted to thank you boys for doing your job and for helping to protect our country. Keep up the good work." Then he snapped to attention, seemed to shake of his age and performed one of the most crisp salutes I have ever witnessed. With an equally crisp about face, he turned around and walked back the way he came. I was speechless and filled with an utter sense of awe.
My friend turned to me with a look of shock on his face, "That was so strange, do you know that guy?", he asked.
I had never seen the guy, and never saw him again. I still don't know if he thought he knew us, or recognized us as soldiers by our haircuts, but it was evident that he had been a soldier at one time. From his age I would imagine that he was a veteran of WWII or maybe Korea.
For a young man who joined the military because of patriotism and a sense of duty, this was the greatest compliment I had ever received. He was the only person that has ever thanked me for my time in the service.