On the beat: Thank you for your service | AspenTimes.com

On the beat: Thank you for your service

Sometimes you have to make yourself slow down to listen. When you least expect something to happen, I have found, is when the good stuff comes along.

That’s how it was more than 25 years ago when I was ready for some alone time and to focus on my career and not dating. But I listened to my sister’s advice and went down to the lobby of my office building to meet a girl who was just finishing up college and working at the front desk. Two weeks ago, we celebrated out 24th wedding anniversary.

So it was last week when I thought a 15-minute conversation and walk was all I would need to round out a story. It became a two-hour walk-and-listen.

Let’s sit on this bench, I said after more than an hour of walking the paths that crisscross the Aspen Grove Cemetery. Besides, I thought, what else do I have to do that would be better than sitting among an aspen grove and forget-me-not flowers on a beautiful Thursday afternoon off Independence Pass?

I went there to see Cpl. Peter Galligan, Aspen’s first soldier to be killed in action. I left there with a greater appreciation not only for his role but for those among us who have served and continue to serve.

I asked just a few questions and listened as a Korean War veteran talked about his life and his duties in that conflict. I thought about how it would have been great to do this with my grandfather who was in the South Pacific in World War II. Or my uncle who served in Vietnam but didn’t talk about his time there and died more than 10 years ago, way too early. Maybe I should have asked, but I was always afraid to for fear of upsetting or bothering them.

Last month I was staying with family friends and their son was on leave from Marines. We were discussing if he should re-up for another three or four years.

I took great pride in the fact that this kid who has become a fine young man still calls me “Mr. Dave” like he did when he was in middle school.

Maybe it was in the back of my mind when I went to the cemetery. Sitting on that bench and listening to a war veteran tell me stories — a few he told a couple of times, and that was fine — became a profound moment for me.

It wasn’t about getting answers, it was about listening — and being inspired. Seems like people in our military have a way of doing that. Thanks for your service, veterans, then and now.

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