Monday, May 29, 2006
Thanks to Steven Palmer
This morning I heard an announcer on the radio suggest for listeners to go thank a veteran on this Memorial Day. As I was sitting in our "new-old" motorhome at Robinson Lake Campground near the Canadian Border, all I had to do was walk about 200 feet to thank my veteran.
We took the motor home for its maiden overnighter for Love adventures. All went well. We made it there in fine style. Kiwi accompanied us, and we all enjoyed its comforts and convenience. We fished and caught lots of trout. Kiwi is pretty fascinated by fishing, in fact, she even thought maybe she needed to herd the first trout I hooked.
We ate steaks, chicken and fresh veggie salad for our main course last night and later enjoyed some homemade rhubarb crisp. We listened to music on Bill's short wave radio, and we walked around the campground, which was filled with Sandpoint folks. Next door to us was Lou Rich, who just this week won the Republican nomination for county commissioner. I taught both of his kids, Jon and Jacquie.
Just as I said hello to him, along came the campground hosts, the Lynches and their son David and his wife. I taught David. David makes furniture, and his wife is teaching at Farmin School with my sister Laurie. And, of course, we had to talk about the Delamarters because Diane's mother Ruth was Eleanor's sister.
A few campsites up our motor home were several employees of PJ's Bar and Grill on First Avenue in Sandpoint. Vicki who cooks at the bar had brought her daughter and friends for the fourth consecutive years. Along were her group were Mike Dutton, a 1992 SHS grad, and my veteran, Steven Palmer, who graduated with my daughter Annie in 1997.
It took a while, however, for it to dawn on me just who Steve Palmer was. He's a big guy. His hair is receding, and he kept mentioning students I'd worked with on the school paper. He even told me when he first moved to Sandpoint he lived across the highway from my family. That still didn't register.
Later, when I went to bed, I continued thinking about who the heck that familiar face was. Suddenly, I put it all together. Steve Palmer of 2006 is Steven Palmer of 1996 who moved to Sandpoint when he was a junior in high school. At the time, he was a tall, skinny basketball player with a lot more hair and a lot less weight than the man with whom I spoke last night.
And, then, I remembered we didn't call him Steve; we called him Steven-----and what a dummy I was. He mentioned my parents. That did it. Steven Palmer and his family lived across the dirt road from my parents, not the highway. His father has always been very helpful to my family.
During our conversation last night, Steve mentioned he'd spent some time in the Army and had traveled everywhere. I also recalled, during my bedtime realization, that he had gone in the service to be a military policeman. Well, this morning when the radio announcer said to go thank a veteran, I wasted no time. As soon as I saw Steven, I shook his hand and said thank you.
I learned during this morning's visit that he, indeed, has served all over the world: Korea, Egypt, Bosnia, Haiti, Panama, Cuba and, yes, Iraq. He told me he has a rather noticeable scar on his thigh where shrapnel hit him while he was running forward to guard a convoy being attacked.
Steve Palmer, now 80 pounds heavier than his high school weight, served in the Army for eight years, with Fort Polk, Louisiana, as his home base. He said every time he returned to Fort Polk he volunteered to go on another mission. He finally left the Army last November after joining to see the world and to serve his country.
I'd say he devoted a generous share of his life toward that cause, and I was proud to thank him for his service on this Memorial Day, 2006.