Last Friday, Veteran's Day, I had the honor of hearing a speech by Cody Gillies, a retired Army Ranger, a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Cody is currently a 2nd year law student at Mercer Law School in Macon, Georgia. He was asked to speak to the law school students and their visiting parents.
Before he began his planned speech, he asked if there were any veterans in the audience, a few hands went up and the crowd applauded their gratitude. Then he asked if there were any Vietnam vets in the audience. The man next to me raised his hand. Ranger Gillies looked directly at the man and said, "Thank you for your service and Welcome Home!" The crowd went crazy! Such a beautiful moment. The gentleman removed his eye glasses, withdrew a handkerchief from his pocket, and wiped his tearful eyes. I wiped mine too.
Cody went on to give a very powerful speech about the originality of Veteran's Day and why it is an important holiday for our nation to celebrate. The speech was remarkable. After the presentation, I congratulated Ranger Gillies and requested a copy of his speech. I intend to read it every single Veteran's Day for the rest of my life. When I emailed Cody to thank him for the speech, I relayed the experience I witnessed with the Vietnam veteran and let him know how touching the scene was. I told Cody, for all we know, that was the very first time that soldier was thanked for his service.
Cody Gillies has a year and a half left of law school. He's going to be a remarkable lawyer. I am so grateful to have met him and to have witnessed his thoughtful Veteran's Day presentation.