On a recent Saturday, I was headed home after shopping for groceries and saw a young girl holding a handmade “CAR WASH — ONLY $5” sign. Thinking that it was another fundraiser for some positive local youth activity, I pulled into the parking lot of Advance Auto Parts on Rodi Road in Penn Hills.
A strikingly handsome black man who looked as if he could be an Olympic athlete came over and asked me to pull to the curb and exit the vehicle. I explained that I'd had two hip replacements, have COPD and lymphedema and would prefer to stay in the car. He asked about the COPD and I told him it had been caused by Agent Orange. His demeanor immediately changed.
He snapped to full attention with a razor-sharp salute; I returned his salute. He explained that he had been in the Army on active duty for two years and in the reserves for another 10 years.
When my car was sparkling, what turned out to be his family came over to its open window. He asked if I would mind if his family, including the young woman he had married only the previous Saturday, prayed for my health. We joined hands and prayed together.
We the people have grown tired of politicians trying to pull the wool over our eyes and divide us by using race as a weapon. Black, white, red, brown, yellow, green or chartreuse — there is one thing we all know: We are all Americans, believe in freedom and liberty, and will always find friendship and respect where some would sow enmity and dissension.
J. Terry Riebling
The writer is the author of the 2005 book “Sniper's Eyes” and co-author of the 2009 book “SEAL Warrior.”