In a million years I never thought I would be writing that I met a war hero. This entry was supposed to be about whether or not to throw home made banana bread out after one finds a humongous, antennae flailing, roach taking a steam bath in the freshly baked loaf. After hemming and hawing and a few, "NOOOOs!!!" I did throw the bread out much to the chagrin of a few of my dog owner friends. Apparently dog owners go beyond the 5 second rule when it comes to considering something consumable or not. Someone even suggested that I should have popped it back in the oven. Maybe he was right.
Navy SEAL, Marcus Luttrell, attended a lunch in NYC on Tuesday afternoon, April 13th. I had never heard of this man until about 2 weeks ago when a friend from yesteryear, as in grade school, contacted me. I remembered this friend fondly. There was a group of us that banded together playing kick ball, dodge ball, after school parties, and well, first attempts at spin the bottle. Of course there were the chosen ones that the girls hoped the bottle would land on and this friend was one of them. I also remember him being kind with the dodge ball by not whipping it at the girls as hard as a boy can. Anyone remember those mean boys? Enough to make anyone "sick" for gym class. He lived on the base, Plattsburgh Air Force base. The base kids were transient, and the townies always seemed to welcome them. I was actually a new kid on the block at the time having just transplanted from Co-Op City, Bronx, NY. We shared two years as grade school friends. His family relocated before Middle School years. That adorable blue eyed boy moved and I had not heard from him in 30 years ... and then there's Face Book. What a shock to see his name on my Fan Page! After a few back and forth notes, I assessed he didn't seem like a stalker or energy drainer, he said he was happily married for 15 years, has 4 children, and seems to have had a successful career. I have "friended" others with less credentials than his, so new FB friends we are. He asked me if I had heard of Marcus Luttrell and I said that I had not.
I am a curious person, so I Googled him. Marcus recently penned a memoir, "Lone Survivor... The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10". Recently I saw an expose on 60 Minutes about Green Berets and the crazy life they live protecting us Americans. Apparently, Navy SEALs are the elite of the elite and some start training as early as 14 years old as Marcus had. Marcus is one bad ass dude. As the title of his book states, he is the lone survivor of his team and he barely survived at that. I am reading the book now only after meeting Marcus at the lunch. In brief, he is a courageous and gracious man. The lunch was organized by a fan, no PR people in charge. He arrived early with his super friendly, playful lab, Rigby, at his side. No celebrity bull with this man. A smile for everyone, but not a fake, I- am-here-doing-my-job smile. In between the book signings, hand shakes, and listening to the stories of what brought each person to this lunch gathering, I could feel his genuine gratitude for his life and what he has endured. Of course his physical presence can't be missed. I am guessing he is 6'4" and about 225 lbs. More than diving into a situation, I like to observe from the side lines. The fans were extremely respectful not wanting to bombard their hero, yet wanting to share a story, ask for an autograph or a picture. He obliged one after the other. The care taker in me thought Marcus must be thirsty. I asked the bartender for a glass of water, no ice, and made my way to Marcus. Really, isn't that what it's all about, looking out for others, getting out of the "me" plan to serve others? This is what we do as yoga teachers, we serve. He serves out country, the least I can do is offer some water. That was my moment with Marcus. Seeing how I could help him. Yes, he had already signed my book and posed with me for a photo, but I was glad that I had thought of something so simple to help him, and he thanked me. This is gratitude, mindfulness and awareness all rolled into one. Give and receive. I enjoyed the lunch with about 40 others, Marcus joined each table at some point during the meal to socialize with everyone. Terrific day, made new friends, and met a real live hero. I am thankful to Marcus and all of those who serve and protect this amazing country we live in. I am also thankful to my grade school friend who reached out, said hello, and asked me to attend the lunch on his behalf.