Matthew and the Soldiers

Grandpa teaches Matthew how to salute.

At Bamberg Germany. Soldier on left is German;
soldier on right is American.

You don’t have to be around Matthew long to realize he loves his heroes.  He’ll show you any program with Chuck Norris in his TV Guide.  You’ll likely catch us watching JAG or NCIS if you come by.  Of course, if Walker’s not on, any hero will do and Matthew knows them all.  He has absolute faith that there are good guys who protect us from bad guys.  And bad guys better watch out.

Swiss soldiers. One let Matthew wear his beret for picture.

 We don’t remember when this admiration began.  It could have been from years listening to Grandpa and the expression, “Once a Marine; Always a Marine.”  All Marines we know do have that certain air.  They are fearless.  We do know Grandpa is a real hero to Matthew.

Luke AFB Chaplain and Matthew

It might have started after 9/11.  The kids watched the towers fall and then we heard President Bush vow to catch those responsible.  It could be that those days following the tragedy sparked a patriotism that caught Matthew.

With Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeau
French soldiers under the Eiffel Tower.

Whether it’s Firefighters, Police or Military Matthew admires our protectors.  Because he likes to look over and over at pictures we started taking shots of some of his heroes.  As Matthew’s number one fan I’ve had to overcome my own feeling silly and will now walk up to a total stranger, generally pulling Matthew along to ask if they’ll pose for a picture.  

If you think it’s tough for me to talk to a stranger imagine poor Matthew.  Autism makes emotion very difficult to handle. He’ll cover his head or run and hide when something is ‘too exciting to bear.’  But, in every case, our ‘heroes’ have been more than willing to allow the picture.  Often even calling Matthew to join them once they realize his shyness holds him back.

An Honorary Army Infantry Soldier

This week Matthew received a package from a new friend who is a soldier.  This hero had heard that Matthew was a big supporter of the troops so he sent one of his jackets and hats that he wore while serving in Afghanistan.  The jacket has the regiment emblem, US flag and of course says US Army.  What a treasure! The friend made Matthew an Honorary Army Infantry Soldier!  As you might imagine, Matthew only takes he jacket off at bedtime and even then under duress.

I wanted to finish this on a light note with something humorous…like the fact that I’ll have to wash the jacket when he’s asleep because I can’t pry if off him otherwise.  But really, the truth is when we have been to poor areas in countries like Mexico, we have seen the handicapped begging for money, food, any kind of help.  Due in large part to our brave men and women in uniform we are safe in this country and able to provide a comfortable living for those with special needs.  To be a serviceman, to run toward danger when the rest of us are running away is truly humbling.  This country is strong because our our military and our first responders.