This past Valentine’s Day, I got the opportunity to share the love with the veterans at the VA Hospital with my lacrosse team, and it was an experience that made me have a different outlook on the true meaning of Valentine’s Day.
The week before Valentine’s Day, our team got together and made a big pasta dinner and cards to handout to the veterans. All I can say is that my team should never craft as a group again – the cards looked like they were made by 5-year-olds.
I got to meet some very honorable men who fought during WWII and Vietnam. My favorite veteran that I met Friday was this man who jumped from the planes on D-Day.
He was such a jolly man and so full of energy – he was also more than 90 years old. The entire time we were there talking to him, he had the biggest smile on his face and he just kept saying over and over again how nice it is to have some lovely faces visiting.
He wasn’t most interested in or most excited about our cards, rather us taking the time out of our day to come and see him.
It was the same way for every veteran we visited. We handed them the cards but they just wanted to have a conversation with us and they had so many stories to tell. I could have stayed there all day just hearing tales from the past.
A lot of what they were saying was helpful life advice – continue with our education, don’t waste time and be with the ones you love – but my all-time favorite was advice from a 90-year-old former Marine.
He was bragging about his life and all his accomplishments. But, the one thing he said that really stood out to me was “we get old before we actually grow up – grow up before you get too old.”
I thought those were very motivational words to live by. It wasn’t your average “life’s too short” advice; it made you think a little bit about how you actually perceive the way life goes.
It is true that life goes by too quickly; it feels like yesterday I was just starting high school, but that was six years ago. The real difference is how I have grown with how I have aged; I am not the immature 14-year-old girl anymore, I am – well I think I am – a mature 21-year-old.
It was interesting and enlightening to talk to the veterans on a day that to the rest of the world meant over-showering your love and affection for someone. These veterans just wanted human interaction from someone willing to listen.
I’m glad that my team was able to come together and give the veterans the only thing they wanted for Valentine’s Day – a smile and someone to talk to.