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How to make your teacher cry...

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Today I had the chance to talk with a former student of mine (from the police academy) who just got back within the last week or so from Iraq/Afghanistan where he served in the US.Army. He served in Task Force Phoenix, at Base Blackhorse in Afghanistan for almost 2 years.

We talked of his service time, how he felt about being home and how great it was to be back in the US and what he looked forward to now that he was settling in a bit. We talked of his lovely wife who I helped get his paperwork together to submit for a job. He is in the process of being hired as a Deputy Sheriff in our county. A really squared away young man, he will do a great job. Then he did me in.

I saw him carry a small bag in when he walked into my office, but I really figured it was paperwork and stuff for his testing he was doing in the hiring process here at the academy. But he reached in a pulled out an American Flag. He handed the flag to me and then a certificate that went with it. This is what the certificate said "This is to certify the accompanying American Flag was flown by the Officers, NCO's, and Soldiers of Combined Task Force Phoenix over Forward Operating Base Blackhorse, Afghanistan, during OPERATION "ENDURING FREEDOM" on the 3rd of April, 2006. In Honor of Mr. Chris Wagoner and Family."

I read the citation, and held the flag and stared at him a minute, crying inside. (I couldn't let him see me cry, I saved that until he left) Which seemed to move him also. You see it was not just that this flag flew above brave young men and women serving in a far away place and represented,even for a short time a symbol of my country. In addition to that it was that this young man had thought enough about me and my family and what I had taught him about what was right with this country and why being a cop was so important to me, that he got this flag for me, knowing full well how special it would be to me. He told me thanks for all that I had done for him, and that he was happy to do it. Figure that, him telling me thanks! I looked at him and should have told him he had it all wrong. It was not him that should be thanking me, but the other way around. I should be thanking him. Him and his family for what he has done for me and my beloved country and its people. But I couldn't talk or I would have lost it.

Steve, for that is his name, really made me feel special. There are times in my job of 26 years, especially those like this, that make it all worth while. That of all the people he knew back home, he would care enough about one of his old police academy teachers to get this special flag. To take the time to come see me and say thanks.

I am taking the flag home tonight to show my wife and son (who is 7) and I will try to explain to him why this flag is so important to his daddy. I will them more than likely get it framed and hang it in my office at work along with the citation. In honor of all the young men and women, but especially one, who thought enough do this for me.

Do you know any young people like this? Have any stories like this one? I hear all the time that there is no hope for our younger generation (mostly from older people) I say you are wrong, if this young man is any example of those to take the reins from those of us moving on, then the country is in good hands..

NOTE: Orginally posted on my blog, and published in the local paper as an editorial. Edited and changed for forum posting here.

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